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.
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.