The writing appears on the wall for the Orlando Magic and Serge Ibaka. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports the team has stepped up efforts to trade Ibaka.
At this point, it is not if the Orlando Magic trade Serge Ibaka but when. And that when is not likely to come until closer to the deadline. Regardless of when that “when” is, it appears there is a healthy market for Ibaka developing. It is not just failed trade talks and calls of light interest.
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Orlando should be able to trade Ibaka and get something in return. Although specifics of a deal have not leaked yet.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports the Magic are exploring “all their options” in moving Ibaka with several teams interested. The belief is the team will use the next week or so to evaluate the various trade offers they are receiving and make a decision on a deal before the Feb. 23 deadline.
Seven months and change later, Orlando is exploring all of its options anew. League sources say the Magic are fielding calls from a handful of teams on Ibaka as the deadline approaches amid undeniable concern that retaining the Congo native in free agency come July will prove much trickier than initially anticipated.
Sources say that Toronto and Miami are among the Eastern Conference teams that have expressed interest in Ibaka this month. More than one rival club has expressed the belief that Orlando will use the next 10 days before the deadline to keep fielding offers and then, ultimately, choose the best available package for Ibaka on Feb. 23 and make the move.
There have been plenty of rumors the last few weeks and even days of teams that have at least inquired about Ibaka. Reports have said the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat and Houston Rockets have all inquired.
Ibaka can still provide solid support to a team hoping to reach the Playoffs. He is averaging a career-high 15.1 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. He remains a quality stretch-4 who can protect the rim. He certainly can step his game up when the games count in the Playoffs.
With the Magic suffering another devastating defeat and falling six games out of the Playoff race with 26 games left, it seems less and less likely Ibaka would re-sign with the Magic this year.
It is now more about what the Magic can extract for Ibaka.
The hope, it would seem, is to acquire a young player and a late first round pick. The Magic may also have to take on a long-term salary. But the idea for now, it would seem, is to find something to help set the Magic up for the future rather than bring back more veterans on long-term salary.
Orlando is not going to rush into a deal, though. The Magic know there is still lots of time before the deadline. They also know there are a few teams angling for Ibaka’s services. This is still the time to wait things out and review all the options. In addition to seeing if someone unknown enters the fray at the last second.