Serge Ibaka could be on the move. As the Orlando Magic begin spiraling down the standings, moving Ibaka becomes a priority. The Houston Rockets have been mentioned as one of the teams in the running for Ibaka, who can be an NBA free agent in the summer. Will the Houston Rockets outbid every interested team and snag Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic?
According to the Orlando Sentinal, the Magic have become keen on the idea of trading Serge Ibaka. This comes after the realization that he can opt-out of his contract to test free agency has hit the Magic front office. Dealing Serge Ibaka would help the Magic get something in return after ill-fated trade took place last offseason.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) January 31, 2017
Ibaka was acquired by the Orlando Magic in a draft day trade (courtesy of CBS Sports) with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Magic sent Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova, and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis in that deal for Serge Ibaka. What the Orlando Magic were hoping to get from Ibaka was a top-flight defender. The power forward, while averaging 14.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, has not had much of an impact on the defensive end.
Even with Serge Ibaka, the Orlando Magic rank in the bottom third of most of the defensive rankings. This includes overall defensive efficiency. To say that Ibaka has been a disappointment on the defensive end of the ball is an understatement. What is easily dismissed is Serge Ibaka’s improvement on his three-point shot. Ibaka’s shooting prowess surely have a handful of teams salivating.
The Boston Celtics, Portland Trailblazers, and Toronto Raptors were immediately reported as the teams interested in Serge Ibaka. Getting him will have to cost something of significance given what price the Magic paid to get him in the first place. Whichever team acquires Serge Ibaka must understand that he is potentially a rental player. This may help the Celtics, Trailblazers, and Raptors make a decision on how much having Serge Ibaka would mean to their playoff hopes, but there is another team lurking.
The Houston Rockets is expected to make a push for Serge Ibaka, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
With where the Houston Rockets are in the Western Conference standings, adding Serge Ibaka is beyond sensible. He would provide an upgrade for the Rockets on offense and defense, unlike what he does with the Orlando Magic. Some may quickly point out his statistical indifference for the Magic, who despite having him, has one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference.
The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, are third in the West. There is a strong chance that the Rockets can pass the San Antonio Spurs, who are second. The Rockets have an extra incentive to push for a trade of Serge Ibaka. Ibaka could be the difference in the Rockets finishing second or fourth in the Western Conference.
Another team making a strong push for Serge Ibaka in recent days — the Houston Rockets. An Ibaka/Harden reunion in the works?
— Chad Evans (@ChadEvansSports) February 4, 2017
Fourth is where the Rockets do not want to finish the season. This is due to the fact a possible first round opponent could be the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz. If the Rockets were to survive the first round, the Golden State Warriors would be waiting for them in round two. The addition of the stretch-forward Serge Ibaka could alter the Rockets’ playoff odds.
Serge Ibaka is a perfect fit for the Houston Rockets based on the style of play. The Rockets employs the fast-paced offensive style that head coach Mike D’Antoni uses. James Harden runs the Rockets as the lead guard.
The Rockets have flanked Harden with shooters and athletic frontcourt players for the purposes of driving to the basket and kicking the basketball out to the perimeter. It has worked to perfection thus far, and adding Serge Ibaka, who played with Harden on the Oklahoma City Thunder would add another element to the mix.
Running the floor is what Serge Ibaka does well. When Ibaka is active, he is a strong help-side defender and rebounder. The Rockets would be helped by his skill set.
Of the teams involved in the Serge Ibaka trade talks, the Houston Rockets have a few assets to offer the Orlando Magic. To get a deal done it could take second-year forward Sam Dekker and a draft pick. It would take away a solid young player from the Rockets, but getting Serge Ibaka for a possible lengthy playoff run it would be worth it.
Nothing is set in stone between the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets. The Rockets are one of many teams who have made a play for Serge Ibaka. It would be wise on the Magic’s part to find a deal that helps them going forward. From the Houston Rockets’ perspective, Serge Ibaka is an ideal fit with their style of play.
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