Winners and Losers of the Thunder Magic Trade
Before we begin let’s remember what happened the other night…
Around 8:49 during the NBA draft, NBA Twitter exploded last when these two tweets were dropped on us by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Oklahoma City has traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic, league sources told @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Orlando will send Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rights to Sabonis to the Thunder, sources said.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
So there you have it. The Thunder-Magic trade broke NBA twitter and shocked everyone who follows basketball. Without further ado, the winners and losers of the trade.
Oklahoma City’s Pockets
With Kevin Durant becoming a free agent in seven days and Russell Westbrook becoming a free agent next year, the Thunder have to make sure they have the financial leverage to sign both if Durant is staying. After next season’s salary cap boom, the amount of money that the Oklahoma City cornerstones can demand will be nearly 30+ million per year. There’s no way they’d be able to afford Serge Ibaka, who would be able to demand 20+ million due to his valuable skill set. From a financial standpoint, Oklahoma City made the right move.
Victor Oladipo (and his fans!!)
Orlando looked like they were an up-and-coming team that just needed to develop their young talent so that they could be a solid playoff team. Scott Skiles came in as the new Orlando Head Coach and was thought of to be the one for the job. Ultimately, things didn’t pan out, as he benched Victor Oladipo 14 games into the season with the hopes of him being a great 6th man. This ruined the progression that their supposed “cornerstone” was making as a starter.
Vic is good and has the potential to be really good. Let’s look at some numbers:
Year One: 14-4-4, 42/33/78, 31 mpg
Year Two: 18-4-4, 44/34/82, 36 mpg
Year Three: 16-5-4, 44/35/83, 33 mpg
Now there may not be anything exciting about these numbers, but there’s more than meets the eye. Via basketball reference, here are Oladipo’s numbers during the last 22 games of the 14-15 season.
21-4-5, 42/36/82, 39 mpg.
Victor made a semi-leap and was poised for a season with these numbers, and possibly better ones, but after the lineup problems, due to the spacing problems, his season for major improvement was somewhat sabotaged.
Now in Oklahoma City it will be clear what his role is. He’ll be an off-the-ball slasher, defender, and spot-up 3-point shooter. These are things that he’s already good at! If he comes off the bench, he can handle the ball and more naturally be introduced to the role as a 6th man on a team with KD (hopefully) and Westbrook.
One more wrinkle for fans of Vic and Oklahoma City: If Durant and Russ end up being on other teams by the summer of 2017, the Thunder will have a 25 year old who has franchise player potential locked into a 4 or 5 year contract.
Thunder Fans that disliked Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters played some out-of-his-mind basketball this past post-season. He was valuable defensively, made several key contributions offensively, and played within himself for the 18 playoff games Thunder played. However, that doesn’t make people forget about his regular season shenanigans. With Victor on the team, it’s more than likely that the Thunder release Waiters during his unrestricted free agency. Someone will send him that offer sheet after the six weeks of the Waiters show that America witnessed, but with someone who, like Vic, has a lot of potential, there’s no need to match any bids another team will make.
At first, I thought that this was a downside for the former Thunder big man, but after mulling it over this isn’t too bad a deal for him. Reportedly, Serge was very dissatisfied with the Thunder since the beginning of last season, due to the management shopping him around, and even more so when he was benched in the Spurs series in favor of Steven Adam and Enes Kanter who were killing San Antonio on the offensive glass.
Vogel has the defensive presence he wanted. As a coach focused on several defenses, Ibaka will be fun to watch under the former Pacers coach.
With Vic gone, Hezonja will finally be unleashed. A 6’8 athletic 2-guard with crazy range. He’ll definitely be something special if Vogel gives him his minutes.
As far as the actual trade is concerned, the Magic lost in the deal. They gave away three players for an expiring contract. Serge is definitely good, but what’s the chances that he’ll stay in Orlando? He’s used to winning in OKC, so barring a miracle or Orlando opening their wallets, Serge will not being staying.
Oklahoma City’s rim defense
With Ibaka gone, the rim is wide open, well, somewhat. Steven Adams is a good defender, but by no means is a threatening rim protector. Kanter is a defensive liability, so the deflection of easy baskets won’t be like it used to be.
Oklahoma City’s future (probably)
This trade may be the signs of the beginning. Four years ago, OKC decided to keep Ibaka and let James Harden go in a trade, because they couldn’t afford to pay him. After that trade all they have to show for him is Steven Adams. Though OKC won the trade, if KD and Russ leave, it means that OKC is more or less in a rebuilding situation. It’ll be hilarious to look back and see that, the 2012 Thunder that we thought would take on LeBron every year, would never make it again and dissolve within five years.
Fans of Thunder Magic games
If you hadn’t noticed Thunder vs Magic games have been some of the best for the last two years. Oladipo, Westbrook, and Durant all go off in what ends up being close games. I’m going to miss those games. At least we may see all three go off against opposing teams. This Thunder Magic trade won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It’ll be interesting to see how it impacts both franchises, short and long term.