Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri finally has his guy. After coveting Serge Ibaka for years, the Raptors made a deal to acquire the Congo native on Tuesday.
The Toronto Raptors have acquired power forward Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic in exchange for small forward Terrence Ross and the Los Angeles Clippers 2017 first-round pick, which is owned by the Raptors, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
This is the big move Raptors’ fans have been waiting for. Ibaka will now slide into the team’s power forward spot and fill an enormous hole for the Raptors. The move also allows Patrick Patterson to slide back into his role as the team’s sixth man, once he’s healthy.
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In the short-term, acquiring Ibaka is a slam dunk for Toronto. The 27-year-old forward brings rim protection, can stretch the floor, shoot the three, defend pick-and-roll situations, and is agile enough to switch on just about everything.
Yes, Ibaka’s play has declined recently, but I think playing for a contending team like the Raptors will rejuvenate him. Let’s be realistic here, Toronto is a significantly better situation than Orlando and any competitor should be excited about playing for a team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
In the long-term, this could just be a rental deal if this team implodes, which seems unlikely. However, the Raptors are said to have every intention of re-signing Ibaka this summer, so, again, unless this team implodes, I think we’ll see Ibaka here for the long-term.
The issue, though, is that Kyle Lowry, Patterson and Ibaka need new contracts this offseason and all three players are set to command a pretty penny. Financially, the Raptors are in a complex situation that will likely either force them to make another trade or pay the luxury tax.
Those are all details I’ll be sure to get into over the next few days, but, for now, put your pitchforks down Raptors’ fans. There’s reason for optimism with this team and I don’t think this is the only trade they’re going to make either.
Looking at the big picture, tip your cap to the Raptors’ front office. They knew there was a problem with this roster and they acted quickly to fix it. Now it’s up to the players to restore order with this franchise.