OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti spoke with the media Thursday night about the decision to trade Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis, who was taken with the 11th pick in the NBA draft.
Many Thunder fans were stunned Thursday night upon hearing news Ibaka was traded to the Magic.
Ibaka, who was drafted in the first round by the Thunder in 2008, had one year left on his contract.
He was set to be paid more than $12 million next year by OKC.
His trade will free up a good amount of money that could be used to re-sign Kevin Durant.
Thursday night, Presti spoke with the media about the trade and what it means for the Thunder.
“The thing we always focus on is how we make the organization better and how we look to aggressively pursue progress and pursue improvement. We felt that this was an opportunity to do that. The combination of players we’re getting back really fit our team,” Presti said. “These are really serious basketball players, high character people and guys who understand how to contribute to winning.”
“Tonight represented an opportunity to build the versatility, depth and skill of our basketball team. Victor, Ersan and Domantas represent the character, work ethic and toughness that we relentlessly pursue with the Thunder. Through the continued emergence and development of our core, we were able to capitalize on the opportunity to acquire three highly skilled professionals,” Presti continued. “I want to acknowledge Serge for his contributions to the ongoing legacy of the Thunder. He has been integral to our success and growth, has been a great community member and we wish him only the best.”
The Magic general manager Rob Hennigan issued a statement following the trade, saying he is excited about the versatility he believes Ibaka will bring to the team.
“Serge (Ibaka) is a young veteran who brings tremendous athleticism and toughness to our frontcourt,” said Hennigan. “His tireless work ethic and wealth of playoff experience will help enhance our culture and roster. We thank Victor (Oladipo) for all of his contributions both on the court and in the community. We wish him and Ersan (Ilyasova) the best of luck in the future.”
The Thunder has reportedly had its sights set on Oladipo for a while.
He was the second overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft.
“The number one thing with Victor is his makeup. This is a guy who we have looked at for a long time. He’s tough-minded, competitive and selfless,” Presti said. “He’s a guy that we feel like brings things on the floor for us but I think he’s going to be a real add to our culture and environment on an everyday basis.”
Sabonis' skills for his size are very versatile and it would give OKC another young post player with high potential.
“(Sabonis) is pretty diverse in a sense that we haven’t had a player at that position or size that has the passing ability he has,” Presti said. “He plays with force. He understands what goes into winning and I’m excited to watch him get acclimated with our group with the way he fits with Steven, Enes and our other bigs.”
Ilyasova, the forward who has played eight seasons in the NBA, was traded to Orlando from Detroit in February of this year.
He reportedly averaged 10.4 points per game last season.
“We traded for him because we think he’s a good complementary player to our core players. He led the league in charges taken last season. He’s a 75th percentile three-point shooter at that position. He’s an excellent offensive rebounder. He stretches the floor and as we know in today’s league, having people who do that is hard to find.”