The Orlando Magic are reportedly shopping forward Serge Ibaka as he failed to help the team get better defensively. According to the latest NBA rumors, the Magic want young assets or picks in return for the Spanish forward.
“It has not taken long for buyers’ remorse to kick in. League sources told Sporting News that the Magic have picked up their attempts to move Ibaka ahead of next month’s trade deadline, eager to ensure that they come away with some return for a player who does not figure to be in Orlando long. Ibaka will be a free agent this summer. There is no chance of a Biyombo trade, not after the Magic paid him $70 million for four years this offseason,” Sean Deveney reported.
Here are the four teams who could trade for Serge Ibaka before February deadline:
As Deveney notes, the Toronto Raptors emerged as the top suitor of Serge Ibaka. The Raptors need an upgrade at power forward to strengthen their chance of dominating the Eastern Conference this season. The Magic are eyeing a wing in return where Toronto has a bunch of serviceable three-and-D guys in DeMarre Carroll, Norman Powell, and Terrence Ross.
However, the Raptors aren’t interested in trading Ross. Aside from Carroll and Powell, they owned all their first-round picks as well as the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2017 selection. Orlando finds it hard to trade Ibaka because of his expiring contract. However, if they give him the right deal, the Raptors will surely grab the opportunity to upgrade their frontcourt.
After acquiring Al Horford, the Boston Celtics continue to be active on the trade market in search for another big man. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, the Celtics want to upgrade their rebounding, defense, and scoring. Nikola Vucevic is reportedly on their radar but trading for Serge Ibaka makes more sense.
Unlike Vucevic, Ibaka can protect the rim and shoot three-pointers. He will undeniably be a good frontcourt tandem with Horford. The Celtics have a plethora of trade assets, including the Brooklyn Nets’ picks. However, it remains questionable if they are willing to give that much for an incoming free agent like Ibaka.
The departure of Dwight Howard in the recent free agency has deeply hurt the Houston Rockets in terms of rim protection. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Rockets are seeking a veteran, defensive-minded big man. There are speculations that the Rockets will make a push for Serge Ibaka.
A reunion between Ibaka and James Harden would be an interesting scenario in the nearing February deadline. Both of them played for the Oklahoma City Thunders, where they managed to enter the 2012 NBA Finals. If the Rockets are serious in trading for Ibaka, they could send Sam Dekker and Corey Brewer, together with future draft picks, to Orlando.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers remain questionable to enter the playoffs this season. Despite the explosiveness of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, their frontcourt obviously needs an upgrade. So far, they are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions.
Keith Smith of RealGM revealed that the Trail Blazers are one of the teams who expressed interest for Serge Ibaka. The 27-year-old Spanish big man could be a long-term option for Portland since they need a rim protector and an upgrade at power forward. However, they need an assurance that Ibaka will re-sign once he becomes a free agent next summer.
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