Rumors of a potential draft-night trade involving Serge Ibaka surfaced a few hours before the proceedings at Barclays Center. Still, people not directly involved in the discussions took those reports at nothing more than face value.
The Oklahoma City Thunder wouldn’t actually trade a key member of their core just over a week before Kevin Durant hits free agency, right? Wrong.
Victor Oladipo immediately becomes the ensconced third playmaker Oklahoma City has lacked since it traded James Harden in 2012. Damontas Sabonis, who the Orlando Magic took with the 11th pick on Thursday night, helps fill the massive void left by Ibaka in the frontcourt, while Ersan Ilyasova gives Billy Donovan’s team a much-needed sense of stretch at power forward.
It’s easy to see why Oklahoma City made this move, basically. Ibaka is a free agent after next season; Oladipo will be cost controlled for the next several years; and the Thunder got valuable pieces back to account for their long-time power forward’s sudden absence. The depth this team has lacked for so long is a thing of the past now, and the prospect of playing Durant at small-ball power forward for major minutes is a development league followers have long awaited. Steven Adams is certainly ready for a bigger role after his breakout postseason performance, too.
This makes sense.
But with Durant’s free agency looming? Let’s just say we’d have been far more comfortable laying out a potential roster shakeup for the 2014 MVP and getting him to sign on the dotted line than striking a trade of this magnitude during the draft.