The Orlando Magic are primed to deal Serge Ibaka prior to the NBA trade deadline on February 23rd, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
“League sources say the Magic are fielding calls from a handful of teams on Ibaka,” says Stein.” The veteran scribe, citing sources from “more than one rival club,” says Orlando will likely weigh all the trade offers for Ibaka and accept the best one the day of the deadline. Among the teams with interest in Ibaka: the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, according to Stein.
While Ibaka’s presence has not reversed Orlando’s fortunes as the franchise had hoped—it dealt Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the Draft rights to Domantas Sabonis for the veteran big man in a bid to accelerate its rebuild and leap into the playoff picture—Ibaka has nonetheless posted solid individual numbers. The eighth-year player is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks while connecting on 38.5 percent of his three-point tries. There’s no question he can still contribute at an above-average level, and his combination of experience and productivity will make him attractive to playoff teams looking for a boost as the postseason draws nearer.
The biggest concern for any team trying to trade for Ibaka is his pending free agency. Indeed, there’s little incentive for opposing teams to surrender their best trade assets in order to acquire a player many of them could sign outright as a free agent. That problem could certainly diminish the haul Orlando might receive for him.
As for the Magic, any trade involving Ibaka ought to return either a future first-round pick or a young, productive prospect still on a rookie-scale contract. And if that prospect can play point guard, so much the better.