The Deal: Orlando reportedly sends (h/t Woj) Serge Ibaka to Toronto, in exchange for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick — either Toronto’s or the Clippers pick that the Raptors own.
The GM Who Approves of This the Most:
It feels so wrong, but it feels so right. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ROB HENNIGAN!??!?
The Winner: Masai Ujiri. The first rule of Masai Ujiri Club is never talk to Masai Ujiri. He is only going to make you look bad. From the producers of Carmelo, for Everything and Holy Crap, He Got Out From Under Bargnani comes the latest heist picture that’s poised to jump-start the trade-deadline box office. Ujiri wanted Ibaka last summer, but stepped away from the Storage Wars sale when the reported asking price of Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Patrick Patterson, and Toronto’s pick (the ninth spot) was too steep. So he waited, watched Orlando’s season stall out, and wound up getting his man for a song. That’s good general managing!
What do the Raptors get in Ibaka? Noted paleontologist Danny Chau put it to me this way: “Ibaka is basically one of the rarest types of players in basketball — someone who can space the floor out to the 3-point line and protect the rim. Patrick Patterson is so vital to Toronto’s success because of how well he shoots, and the Raptors basically get a better version of him.” Maybe this will cheer Kyle Lowry up.
The Caveat: It’s time for some gaaaaaaaaame theory! Maybe Hennigan knew exactly what he was doing when he gave up the at-the-time highly regarded Victor Oladipo and the newly drafted, also highly regarded Domantas Sabonis. Maybe Serge was never supposed to be a building block and was just a distraction from Hennigan’s real plan. Maybe Terrence Ross was the target all along. Maybe this is just the first in a multipart plan to immediately rebuild the Magic roster with a series of daring deadline moves that gives Frank Vogel all the tools he needs to challenge in the Eastern Conference.
Psych. I know one Magic fan. His name is Kevin Clark, and he is saying words like “sad” and “horrifying.” Orlando is a junkyard of old parts — D.J. Augustin, Jodie Meeks, C.J. Wilcox, Jeff Green — rusting on top of what were once-hyped younger players like Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, and Aaron Gordon, the latter of which is basically the only thing of value the Magic possess. The Raptors or Clippers pick is likely to fall outside of the prime talent pool of this year’s draft. Hennigan better have a next move here, because otherwise he’s not going to be around to use the pick. Orlando has no discernible direction or identity.