February 14, 2017
Toronto Raptors Receive: Serge Ibaka
Orlando Magic Receive: Terrence Ross, 2017 first round pick (whichever holds lesser value of Raptors’ and Clippers’ 2017 first round picks)
It seemed like a safe bet that the Raptors would look to upgrade their team at the deadline in hopes of competing with the Celtics and Cavaliers. The most likely candidates were Serge Ibaka and Paul Millsap. It seems like they go who they wanted, as there were rumors last year of the Raptors trying to trade for Ibaka when he was with the Thunder. It was rumored that the Thunder wanted Cory Joseph, Patrick Peterson, and the number 9 pick in the 2016 draft. It seems that by waiting half a season the Raptors were able to get Ibaka at a discounted rate than they would have if they traded for him during the past offseason. Serge Ibaka should be able to fit in very well with this Raptors team. The two superstar guards, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will benefit from the presence of Ibaka on both offense and defense. On offense Ibaka will give these two play makers both a pick and roll, and pick and pop option. Ibaka is currently averaging 15.1 points per game while shooting 38.8% from three. He does not require the offense to be built around him and won’t take the ball away from the hands of the two All-Stars, but bolsters the offense anyway. Ibaka should drastically improve their defense. Ibaka is a three time all defensive player and lead the NBA in blocks in both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. That has tapered off a little and he is down to 1.6 blocks per game but brings more defensive presence than any other power forward on the team. Ibaka should fit well next to center Jonas Valanciunas, as well as almost every big man on the Raptors. The loss of Terrence Ross will be felt, but the Raptors have plenty of young depth on the wings and Norman Powell should be able to take over the role Ross held. This helps the Raptors this year remain competitive in the east but does not make them seem like a serious threat to the Warriors even if they were to reach the Finals. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka will both be free agents after this season and both will command close to max, if not max salaries. That will be a lot for a team like the Raptors, who are generally not big spenders. Whether they are both resigned will determine if the Raptors came out on top in this trade. Even if Ibaka leaves, the Ross loss would hurt but a team like the Raptors does not have room to bring in two late-first round rookies next year and probably would have had to move one of their two picks anyway.
It was a questionable move when the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis (#11 pick in 2016 draft), and Ersan Ilyasova to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka back in June. All three traded players have become important role players for their current teams (Ilyasova was traded along with a protected 2020 first round pick to the 76ers for Jerami Grant), while Ibaka did not turn the Magic into the defensive juggernaut they thought he would. The Magic currently sits with the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. With Ibaka on an expiring contract and it looking like he would not resign with the Magic, it was important to realize they made a mistake and try to get some value for Ibaka rather than see him leave during the offseason with no return. They were never going to recoup what they gave up to get him, but Terrence Ross and a first round pick in a deep draft class isn’t awful when looking at the trade without taking into account what they gave up to get Ibaka. Terrence Ross is signed through the 2018-2019 season at 10 million this year and 10.5 million the following two. This is a very reasonable contract for a 26-year-old player who average 10.4 points per game in only 22.4 minutes. With an expanded role, Ross may be able to contribute significantly more. His elite athleticism and career 37.6 three-point percentage are a nice pick up for a team that lacks shooting and guards. If the draft pick were to be conveyed today, it would be the 25thpick in the 2017 draft. This is a deep draft class, but it would be rare to find an above average talent this late in the draft, but we have seen it happen before. The Magic were able to bring back what is a young player signed on a good deal and a first round draft pick that will either be used in another trade or to bring in another young player. Not bad for an expiring contract but when looking at the situation as a whole; Oladipo, Sabonis, and Ilyasova for Terrence Ross and the 25th pick in 2017, it looks much worse.