Dan Feldman

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 31:  Kevin Durant #35 and Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder walk off the court after the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Thunder 112-107 in overtime during Game Six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 31, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Reports: Issues existed between Serge Ibaka and Thunder, trade won’t affect Kevin Durant’s decision


The Thunder traded Serge Ibaka to the Magic for Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova.

The biggest question: What did Kevin Durant think?

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

Ibaka had grown unhappy with his role, a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports, and was considered likely to leave as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. Though Ibaka had not requested a trade, it was reasonable to expect that such a request could be on the horizon.

The first thing to understand is that the trade never would have been made if there was a chance it would have affected Durant’s decision in free agency; it won’t, said a person close to the All-Star and former MVP.

Royce Young of ESPN:

But it’s also about Ibaka, and the stuttering relationship he had in the locker room in OKC.

Again, what does that Durant guy think? His relationship with Ibaka never existed anywhere really than on the court, and both with Durant and Westbrook, Ibaka was often a target of on-court rebuking. The Thunder stars were often frustrated with Ibaka’s mental mistakes, with the heated arguments breaking out in huddles regularly. Durant is a team player, and defends anyone wearing the same jersey as him, but behind the scenes he was always open to moving Ibaka. In the summer of 2013, Durant spent a week working out with Kevin Love, and told some close to him he’d trade Ibaka for Love.

Kevin Love was way more valuable than Ibaka in 2013. Love made the All-NBA second team the following season. Ibaka received two votes. Wanting to trade Ibaka for Love does not mean Durant had a problem with Ibaka.

Of course, it doesn’t mean Durant didn’t have a problem with Ibaka.

Likewise, Durant and Russell Westbrook lashing out at Ibaka on the court doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem between them and Ibaka. Durant and Westbrook sometimes go after each other about breakdowns, and they love each other. That’s just the culture of the team.

Again, that doesn’t mean it was the same with Ibaka.

Some of this feels like the too-common tactic of demonizing a player or coach on his way out of town. If the Thunder leak negative things about Ibaka now, their trade looks better.

That also doesn’t mean the reports are untrue.

There’s a lot of give and take here.

I think the Thunder got good value for Ibaka, but I also think they might take a step back in the short term. Even if Durant and Westbrook truly had problems with Ibaka, they might miss him more than they realize. Not many players can protect the rim and space the floor like Ibaka. Ibaka’s shot-blocking covered some of Westbrook’s defensive mistakes, and both stars benefitted from Ibaka’s 3-point shooting pulling a defender from a paint.

Oladipo is an upgrade at shooting guard, and he and Durant share a D.C. connection. Ilyasova can shoot 3s and take charges if he’s not waived due to his barely guaranteed contract. Sabonis can score inside and rebound as he adjusts to the NBA. Steven Adams can fill a bigger role inside.

But Ibaka was important to Oklahoma City’s success the last several years. At minimum, there will be an adjustment period.

Does Durant really want to play through that? He’d also have to adjust with a new team, but the Thunder no longer offer as much comfort in their fit.

If you take Berger’s source at his word, this trade won’t affect Durant in free agency. If true, that’d be a little disappointing for Oklahoma City. The Thunder had to hope it’d improve their odds – and maybe it will once they have a chance to sell Durant on the deal. They seem pretty skilled at promoting their spin of it.

President Barack Obama to Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: ‘Tell J.R. and everybody to put on a shirt’ (video)

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 and Iman Shumpert #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers react onstage during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

President Barack Obama called Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue to congratulate him on Cleveland’s championship.

Just as Obama was wrapping up the call, he had one more important message he wanted relayed to J.R. Smith, who has gone shirtless essentially since the Cavaliers won the title.


“Tell J.R. and everybody to put on a shirt, though.”

“You can’t just be walking around without a shirt for the last – the whole week.”

“Now, Shumpert’s taking off his shirt. Kyrie is taking off his shirt. C’mon, man.”

“But, I guess if you’re built like that.”

Report: No. 38 pick Patrick McCaw agrees to two-year deal with Warriors

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 30:  Patrick McCaw #22 of the UNLV Rebels brings the ball up the court against the San Diego State Aztecs during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on January 30, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. San Diego State won 67-52.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Warriors got one of the best values of the draft with Patrick McCaw at No. 38. I rated him in the 12-19 range.

He’s the exact type of player positioned to cash in this year – a second-round pick with some first-round credentials.

But McCaw isn’t exactly taking advantage of the opportunity.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Warriors might need every available dollar to chase Kevin Durant. They’ll already have to unload salary to create max space. So, I can see why it was particularly important for them to lock him into a low-paying deal. This won’t cost them any cap space, because McCaw will just replace a roster charge that also counted against the cap at the rookie minimum. (He can sign a minimum deal as soon as July 1.)

But why did McCaw rush to accept this deal?

He might prefer two guaranteed seasons to the required tender, a one-year offer teams must extend to keep rights on a second-round pick that is always for the minimum and fully unguaranteed. Wanting two guaranteed seasons rather than the risk of the tender is perfectly reasonable.

But McCaw might have gotten a higher guaranteed salary later if he pushed for it. If the Warriors are out of cap space after signing Durant, no – McCaw is stuck with the minimum then. But they’re no lock to sign Durant or any other big-time free agent. They might have money left over after assembling the roster. At that point, McCaw could’ve asked for more. Would Golden State have pulled the offer available now? I doubt it.

DeMarcus Cousins tweets: ‘Lord give me the strength’

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins walks up court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 5, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 104-94. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
AP Photo/Darren Abate

The Kings are trying to make it work with DeMarcus Cousins.

Their draft day apparently isn’t helping.

Usual disclaimer: We don’t know what Cousins is tweeting about. He might not even be watching the draft. But with most of the NBA world tuned to the draft, it’s a reasonably safe assumption.

Sacramento traded Marco Belinelli for the No. 22 pick and traded down from No. 8 to select Georgios Papagiannis at No. 13. I like the strategy of expanding assets, though:

1. I’m not enamored with Papagiannis, an old-school center who admittedly has a decent amount potential.

2. Cousins probably is even less intrigued by someone he can’t play with. At best, Papagiannis backs up Cousins next season, and I doubt Papagiannis is ready to make an NBA rotation.

3. All these moves have an eye to the future. Cousins wants to win now.

Cousins’ discontent is reasonable, but the Kings have to think bigger picture. If they do so wisely, they might wind up surprising him.

Report: Thunder trade Serge Ibaka to Magic for Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Ersan Ilyasova

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  Glen Davis #11 of the Orlando Magic plays defense against Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the game at Amway Center on February 7, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

A team that reached the Western Conference finals traded a veteran star with one season left on his contract to an Eastern Conference team that didn’t even make the playoffs.

This deal is a little backward.

Serge Ibaka is headed to the Magic with Victor Oladipo, No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova going to the Thunder.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Thunder might take a small step back in the short term – which is an awful signal to send Kevin Durant ahead of free agency. Otherwise, this is quality return. Ibaka had shown signs of decline, and Steven Adams stepping up made him more expendable. Durant works well as a small-ball power forward, which cuts the minutes of traditional bigs.

Oladipo is an upgrade at shooting guard from Andre Roberson (can’t shoot) and Dion Waiters (wasn’t good until a small sample recently). The athleticism Russell Westbrook and Oladipo in the backcourt will be difficult to contain.

Now, the Thunder won’t have to overpay Waiters in restricted free agency. They can also clear more room by waiving Ilyasova. The $8.4 million remaining on Ilyasova’s contract is just $400,000 guaranteed until July 1.

If Oklahoma City keeps him, Ilyasova can be a decently productive stop-gap power forward Sabonis develops. Sabonis is relatively NBA ready for a late lottery pick, which adds options.

The Magic continue to show their desperation to make the playoffs. They’ve needed a rim protector, and that’s Ibaka. Without Oladipo, who never complemented Elfrid Payton nearly as well as Evan Fournier did, Orlando’s roster fits a little better. It’ll still require a major signing in free agency to move the needle – which was the case before this trade.