Thunder send Ibaka to Magic for Oladipo, Sabonis

Posted at 5:45 AM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 06:53:51-04

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Thunder might finally have found their shooting guard in Victor Oladipo.


Now, they just need to persuade Kevin Durant to stay.

Oklahoma City traded power forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and newly drafted forward Domantas Sabonis, the teams announced Thursday. The Thunder may have tweaked their roster to appeal to Durant, who will become a free agent on July 1.

Oladipo fills a void for the Thunder, who have struggled to find a steady shooting guard since trading James Harden to Houston in 2012. Oladipo averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season for the Magic.

 "I think the number one thing with Victor is makeup," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. "This is a guy that we've looked at for a long time. He's tough-minded, he's competitive, he's selfless."

Oladipo had two of his best games last season against the Thunder -- he posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists on Oct. 30 and had a 37-point outing on Feb. 3.

This past season, Oklahoma City mostly used a combination of defensive stopper Andre Roberson and the scoring-minded Dion Waiters at shooting guard. Roberson, a 6-foot-7 leaper, improved as a scorer in the playoffs and has potential, but his career marks of 3.6 points per game and 27.4 percent from 3-point range put him in danger of being replaced.

Waiters is a solid offensive threat, but he has been inconsistent. He is a restricted free agent, and adding Oladipo softens the blow if the Thunder aren't able to keep him.

Ibaka emerged from raw talent to core piece for the Thunder along with Durant and Russell Westbrook. He led the league with 3.7 blocks per game in 2011-12 and led the league in the same category again the next season. He was on the NBA's All-Defensive first team three straight years.

 "He's been absolutely integral to helping us create a sustainable foundation of sustainable success for the Thunder," Presti said. "He's been a great citizen of Oklahoma City, and we're confident that he's going to continue his career trajectory with the Magic in Orlando."

As the game changed and Ibaka was drawn away from the basket more by perimeter shooting big men, he became valuable as a versatile defender who could still block shots, yet still keep up with guards on switches.

Ibaka emerged as an offensive player during the 2013-14 season while Westbrook was out with a knee injury and averaged career-highs of 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds while leading the league in total blocks. The next season, Ibaka extended his consistent mid-range jumper out to three-point range, but his overall averages fell and he missed the final part of the season with a knee injury. He averaged career highs of 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2013-14, but those numbers fell to 12.6 points and 6.8 rebounds last season.

Sabonis, the No. 11 overall pick, is the son of former NBA player Arvydas Sabonis. The 6-foot-11 power forward from Gonzaga averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds last season.

Sabonis was thrilled to be heading to Oklahoma City, which led Golden State 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals before dropping the final three games and the series.

"They were 30 minutes away from the finals," Sabonis said. "Hope I can bring that extra piece to their team that will help them succeed even more."

Ilyasova averaged 10.4 points for Detroit and Orlando last season.

The Thunder also sent cash to Denver for the 56th overall pick, Connecticut guard/forward Daniel Hamilton. He averaged 11.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season as a sophomore.