TORONTO- The Toronto Raptors have finally made a big splash prior to the NBA Trade Deadline. The Raptors acquired power forward Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic in exchange for SG Terrence Ross and a 2017 1st round pick.
The Raptors struggled mightily, losing ten of the last fourteen games and slipped to the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Ibaka averaged 11.9 points 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks throughout his career. The 27-year old played his first six seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder and played very well behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Ibaka was traded to the Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis during the NBA Draft last June. He is averaging 15.1 points 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this season.
Raptors President Masai Ujiri and general manager Jeff Weltman coveted on Ibaka for quite a while and finally they get the player that they wanted all along. This trade fills a huge and glaring need for the team that is trying to catch up with the Cleveland Cavaliers. All year long the Raptors had been looking to upgrade at the power forward position. With the addition of Ibaka, the Raptors get an athletic big man who can rebound, block shots and be more effective on offense to take pressure off of Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Ibaka can stretch the floor and is a very good three-point shooter. He shot a career 36.5 percent from downtown.
Ross has been inconsistent throughout his career. However, the twenty-six year old is shooting a career best at 44.1 percent on the floor and 38 percent behind the three. With Ross gone, this gives the opportunity for Norman Powell to extend his minutes. Powell is a better two-way player than Ross and can provide athleticism and potential to be an impact player.
Keep in mind that Ibaka is a free agent to be. However the Raptors also acquired the Early Birds Rights for Ibaka, which give the Raptors an advantage to resign their recent acquired big man. This means that it is possible that the Raptors could resign both Ibaka and Lowry without hurting their salary cap.
Right now, the Raptors are a much better team than they were twenty-four hours ago. Now it is up to the Raptors to build a momentum going forward. Look for them to make a big push for the 2017 NBA Championship.