Something needed to be done. And after weeks of seeing their defensive efficiency take an absolute beating, the Toronto Raptors hope they have found a solution by trading for Serge Ibaka.
The Raptors are sending a first-round Draft pick and swingman Terrence Ross to the Orlando Magic in the deal.
Toronto has struggled to find a perfect fit at the power forward position, and the addition of Ibaka would seem to solve that. An athletic defender with the ability to knock down spot-up jumpers, Ibaka would seem to be an ideal compliment to the play of Toronto’s dynamic backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Ibaka is not the same defensive presence he was earlier in his career. He spent the first seven seasons of his career alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City before being traded to Orlando over the summer. But he remains a physical presence capable of being an impact player around the rim on both ends of the floor.
With free agency looming for Ibaka this summer, recent reports suggested the Magic were concerned with their ability to re-sign Ibaka to a long-term deal. Toronto reportedly hopes they will be able to convince him to re-sign.
Ibaka and Masai go way back and he has said he loves the city. Just need to clear another contract or else luxury tax bill will be huge.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) February 14, 2017
Ibaka’s addition to a Raptors team that battled Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals last season also gives Jonas Valanciunas some security in the frontcourt. Toronto played much of the 2016 postseason without Valanciunas, who suffered an ankle injury in the first round against Miami.
Ibaka, who is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, is just 27. So the Raptors are getting a player who fits perfectly with their core of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Valanciunas.
Whether or not he pushes them back into the mix for that No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings behind Cleveland, however, remains to be seen.