NBA Trade Grades: Toronto Raptors Snag Serge Ibaka

NBA Trade Grades

Feb 3, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) shoots the ball over Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors needed a power forward upgrade. The Orlando Magic needed to get rid of a free agent who was leaving. Here are NBA Trade Grades for the Serge Ibaka deal.

After a pair of unexpected deals kicked off NBA trade season, one of the league’s more predictable, sensible deals came to fruition Tuesday morning.

According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Toronto Raptors have agreed to send Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka.

Trade rumors have been swirling around Ibaka for weeks now, which makes sense from Orlando’s perspective. With Ibaka being an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Magic being 5.5 games out of a playoff spot at 21-36, it was highly unlikely they would be able to re-sign him.

After giving up Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and No. 11 overall pick Domantas Sabonis to acquire Ibaka last summer, the Magic had to make sure they didn’t lose him for nothing.

Raptors get PF – Serge Ibaka

Magic get SF – Terrence Ross
2017 1st round pick

As for the Raptors, they’ve been in need of a game-changing move for weeks now, particularly at the power forward spot. This exact deal was the No. 1 option on our list of game-changing moves for We The North last week.

The question is, did Toronto save its season by dealing for Ibaka? Will they be able to re-sign him this summer? And how well did Orlando mitigate its losses by making this trade? To sort it all out, here are some NBA Trade Grades.

NBA Trade Grades

Feb 3, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) shoots over Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game at Amway Center.The Magic won 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic

With another blind gambit to save his job and make a playoff push, general manager Rob Hennigan might have effectively sealed his fate the moment he traded for Serge Ibaka last summer.

With a crowded frontcourt and not nearly enough scoring, the Magic turned down chance after chance for another rebuild when they made shortsighted deals, sending away young players like Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris without getting any sort of future draft compensation in return.

Bearing all this in mind, it’s hard to grade the Ibaka trade in a vacuum considering how much they gave up to acquire him and how little they have to show for it. Well, other than Aaron Gordon FINALLY being able to play his true position (maybe).

Trading for Ibaka was supposed to give Orlando a stretch-4 to spread the floor, make life easier on a non-shooter like Elfrid Payton and help get the Magic back to the playoffs in a season where a record four games below .500 is currently good enough for a playoff spot.

Instead, the Magic are 15 games under .500, and though Ibaka is averaging a respectable 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on .488/.388/.846 shooting splits, he hasn’t been the difference-maker in getting this playoff-starved franchise back to the postseason.

Orlando had to deal him to mitigate their inevitable loss in free agency this summer, and the return was about as good as it was going to get when everyone in the league knew Hennigan’s desperate situation.

Terrence Ross is a useful bench piece who will help provide some scoring to a team that needs it as the NBA’s 29th-ranked offense. He’s still only 26, he’s a high-flying, entertaining dunker and perhaps on a worse team he’ll get more chances to shine.

However, Orlando’s offense will probably be even worse without its second-leading scorer and second-most accurate three-point marksman in Ibaka. The same could be said of the defense without the team’s leading shot-blocker.

As for the first round pick, Wojnarowski reports that it will be the less valuable pick between Toronto’s own first-rounder and the first round selection they’re owed from the Los Angeles Clippers. If the season ended today, the Raptors’ pick would fall at No. 20, while the Clippers would be No. 25.

A first-rounder of any sort is a decent return for a free agent who had no chance of staying, but over the last year, the Magic basically traded Oladipo, Ilyasova and a lottery pick in Sabonis for a few months of Ibaka in a losing season, Terrence Ross and a first round pick likely to be in the mid-20s.

And that’s BEFORE you remember they traded Tobias Harris away for a few months of Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova without getting a first round pick in return.

Though this deal could finally signal the Magic are heading for the rebuild they’ve long-needed, the Ibaka trade is the end result of piss-poor asset management, and it shouldn’t be any wonder if and when Hennigan loses his job.

Grade: C-

NBA Trade Grades

Jan 29, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) controls a ball as Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) defends during the first quarter in a game at Air Canada Centre. The Orlando Magic won 114-113. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors

For the Raptors, something had to be done if they wanted to keep their window open for title contention. Toronto has lost 10 of its last 14 games, sliding from second in the Eastern Conference standings all the way to fifth.

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards both look like more legitimate threats to the Cleveland Cavaliers right now, and barring a blockbuster move, “We The North” was facing the possibility that its current core had reached its ceiling — a significantly worrisome conclusion with Kyle Lowry able to join free agency this summer.

By dealing for Ibaka, GM Masai Ujiri has made his all-in move, hoping the stretch-4 and shot-blocker will help aid the Raptors’ 17th-ranked defense and further bolster the NBA’s sixth-most potent three-point shooting team.

Giving up Ross’ 10.4 points per game and 37.5 percent three-point shooting off the bench is hardly a concern considering the theoretically perfect fit they acquired in Ibaka.

Trading a first-rounder for a soon-to-be free agent sounds bad on paper, but Toronto is trading its less valuable pick of the two it owns in this year’s draft. The Raptors have little need for two new rookies selected somewhere in the 20s, and according to Woj, Ujiri is set on re-signing both Lowry and Ibaka to keep this core together for the long haul.

With a Big Three of Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Ibaka, the Raptors are more balanced on both ends of the floor. Head coach Dwane Casey has a big he can trust on the defensive end in late-game situations, and Ibaka should help cover for some of Jonas Valanciunas‘ flaws on that end.

Ibaka is still only 27 years old, so acquiring him — and potentially re-signing him this summer — is not some desperate gamble to compete for a title in 2017; it’s also a move to prolong this group’s status as an Eastern Conference challenger.

However, there will be an adjustment period, and with Ibaka joining a team that’s currently floundering, it’s tough to predict his arrival will immediately turn things around. Re-signing both Lowry and Ibaka to the biggest deals of their careers will also put Toronto well over the luxury tax and force some hard decisions in the future.

The Raptors will try to keep this core intact no matter what happens in this year’s playoffs, as well they should. But if We The North struggles to truly compete in the East this year — especially with Kevin Love now sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks — committing that much money to this core won’t look quite as good in retrospect.

All in all, this is a win for Toronto. They gave up non-essential assets for a two-way player who should fit in perfectly, but only time will tell if Ibaka is truly the game-changing move that the Raptors have been waiting for to get them over that LeBron James-sized hump in the playoffs.

Grade: A-

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