Magic Exploring Possible Serge Ibaka Deal?

The Magic have “picked up their attempts” to trade Serge Ibaka before next month’s deadline, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. According to Deveney, Orlando has experienced some “buyers’ remorse” after trading for Ibaka last summer, and the team is looking to get something for him to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency.

Although Deveney suggests that there’s pessimism about Ibaka re-signing with the Magic this summer, he adds that people around the NBA aren’t sure what the former Oklahoma City big man will do in free agency, which complicates his trade market. Teams would be unwilling to give up a significant return to rent Ibaka for a few months.

“They’re asking too much,” one front office executive said of the Magic, per Deveney. “(The Magic) would probably like to make a few moves there, but Ibaka is the one they’re really pushing because he is going to leave. But they have had too high a price. They want a young player and a pick, two young players — you know, a package that can get them back some assets. They’re not going to get that. Not for three, maybe four months of Serge Ibaka.”

The Magic surrendered their 2016 lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) along with Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova when they acquired Ibaka, signaling that they expected the 27-year-old to be a part of the long-term plan. However, the club has struggled this season and appears to be slipping out of playoff contention, with a 19-30 record, reducing the odds of Ibaka wanting to re-sign with Orlando in July.

General manager Rob Hennigan said last week that he expects to be “aggressive” in pursuing ways to improve Orlando’s roster, and addressing the club’s frontcourt logjam would be a good place to start. With Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo joining a group that already featured Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, there aren’t enough minutes to go around, and Gordon has spent a lot of time playing out of position.

According to Deveney, there’s “no chance” of a trade involving Biyombo, who signed a four-year, $68MM deal last summer. Gordon is also a key part of the Magic’s long-term plan, which leaves Ibaka and Vucevic as possible trade candidates. We heard last week that the Celtics were among the teams to talk to Orlando about Vucevic.

As for Ibaka, even if he’s no more than a rental piece, there should be several teams with interest in talking to the Magic about a deal. Deveney identifies the Celtics, Rockets, and Raptors as a few potential suitors, though he cites a source who says Toronto isn’t very interested in giving up Terrence Ross in a trade for Ibaka.

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