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Oklahoma City Thunder: How The Ibaka Trade May Force Kevin Durant’s Hand


The buzz of NBA Draft was of the New York Knicks bold deal to acquire Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls but how easily that deal may be pushed aside due to a trade that may have a rippling effect on the Golden Child of free agency.

The Oklahoma City Thunder made what should be called one of the best moves in NBA trade history. The Thunder shipped PF Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for SG Victor Oladipo, SF Ersan Ilyasova and the #11 pick in this years draft PF Domantas Sabonis. What does this mean for the Thunder? It should mean the return of Kevin Durant.

But he is still a FA and with the likes of the Knicks and the Golden State warriors bidding for his services things may get hectic in OKC until he makes his decision but the Thunder just proved that they are willing to go all in for next season and beyond with such a power play. And this is exactly what this was, a power move that the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers could only enjoy.

This is what teams do when they were close but failed short of their goal. They do what they have to do.

This move was not done for the future of the franchise, not done to see how Russell Westbrook and Oladipo will mesh, this was done to win a championship next season, was done to show Durant that all their chips are on the table, now it’s his move. Could he do better on the open market?

Yes he can but where?

The Warriors were a defensive presence away from being back-to-back champs, but the Thunder were a scorer away from taking the Warriors place in the Finals.

If Durant were to stay he gets what he and Westbrook always wanted– help. They lost that when the Thunder let James Harden walk out the door, and while they tried to make Ibaka into the third option it backfired only to prove that he is a defense specialist. But with the addition of Oladipo the Thunder by far will have the best three-headed monster in the league now.

Oladipo put up 17 meaningless points per game last season for the Magic but imagine how meaningful those will be in a Thunder’s uniform playing for a title.

But of course you will get the Debbie-Downers with that trade.

“Without Ibaka who will defend”?

Maybe they never saw Enes Kanter and Steve Adams play basketball. Maybe they didn’t notice that during the end of games in crunch time it was usually those two on the floor playing alongside Durant and Westbrook. This trade was done for two reason, the first was pretty obvious– give Durant the pieces he needs to get him to stay and the other was to bring in another offensive-minded player to help take the pressure of their two stars.

If Durant was to stay, the Thunder will throw out a lineup of Westbrook, Oladipo, Durant, Kanter and Adams. This is a team that won 50+ games last season and was up 3-1 on the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It’s rare that a team that makes it that far has the opportunity to get better but that’s exactly what the Thunder were able to do.

They got a great offensive player, a very good bench player and somehow managed to walk away with a lottery pick all for a player they had no use for. They got everything checked off their wish list, now they are praying they can still land the best gift of them all July 1st.

 


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]