Just when you thought Oklahoma City was going to be a non-factor on NBA Draft night, Sam Presti enginereed a deal that sent Thunderous shockwaves throughout the Association.
Serge Ibaka was sent packing to Orlando in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to the #11 pick, Damontas Sabonis.
Ibaka, once considered one of the cornerstone pieces of the youthful OKC franchise, struggled through a mediocre regular season, but was a major factor for the Thunder in the postseason, becoming the team’s most reliable 3-point shooter.
Still, this is a good move for OKC.
The Thunder gets a versatile two guard in Oladipo, who can play both ends of the floor. The former Indiana Hoosier, who the was the #2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, gives OKC versatility in the backcourt.
And while Oladipo isn’t the consistent perimeter shooter this team covets, he is a driving-slashing scorer that can take some of the pressure off Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Ilyasova, if he stays with OKC, is a 6-10 forward who can help stretch the floor.
Sabonis, son of former NBA player and Russian international star Arvydas Sabonis, is a 6-11 center-power forward from Gonzaga. Orlando took him with the #11 overall pick, before trading him to OKC.
How this deal effects the upcoming KD free agency sweepstakes (coming to a wifi connection near you July 1st) remains to be seen.
However, it’s hard to imagine the Thunder making any deal, much less a blockbuster like this one, without Durant’s best interests in mind.
KD seemed very discouraged by Ibaka’s disastrous 3-point foul on Steph Curry late in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. That blunder basically slammed the door shut on a potential OKC upset.
Durant and Westbrook also appeared to be upset by Ibaka’s mental mistakes (especially on defense) at times during last season.
Serge also expressed frustration about not getting as many “touches” in the offense, which revolves around the team’s dynamic duo.
While these issues didn’t appear to be super serious, there was obviously something simmering behind the scenes.
That means there was a major chance Serge may have left OKC after next season, so maybe it was the perfect time to send him packing.
And if you can get Oladipo and a lottery pick for a guy who might not be around long term, do it.
I still think KD stays.
The man in the glasses has good vision for the future. Sam Presti is a pretty good poker player.
This hand he got from Orlando is a winner, and it keeps Durant at the same table, unless the Warriors can come up with a royal flush next month.