Orlando Magic acquire Serge Ibaka in Draft night deal

Feb 3, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) and Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) react after a go-ahead three-point-shot during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) and Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) react after a go-ahead three-point-shot during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have acquired Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis.

As the time ticked down on the Orlando Magic’s draft pick Thursday, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan was finalizing a game-changing deal. In the moments before the Magic picked, a conversation the team was simply kicking the tires on became real. A change was coming.

The Orlando Magic acquired Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending out 2013 second overall pick Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova (and his non-guaranteed deal) and the rights to Domantas Sabonis, taken with the 11th overall pick. And in that instant, the Magic’s identity changed.

Changed perhaps into the one Frank Vogel envisioned.

“The defense we played in Indiana that we hope to bring that mindset to Orlando is predicated on having a guy like Serge Ibaka who can protect the rim and be an elite shot blocker,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “The direction the NBA is going, defensive versatility is huge. When you have a guy who can not only protect the rim at the highest level but also has the skill set to switch out and guard smaller guards, he becomes extremely valuable to what we’re hoping to do on the defensive end.”

For a long time now the Magic have needed a power forward to pair with Nikola Vucevic who could protect the rim and be a deterrent in the paint. Vucevic long has been considered having that shortcoming in the paint.

What the Magic did Thursday night was bold and risky. They traded away a player they had invested a lot of time in and certainly a lot of push as a star into.

The 2016 season was supposed to be Victor Oladipo’s coming out party in many ways. It never developed into that — he averaged 16.0 points per game but still struggled to score efficiently and lead the team beyond the lottery.

He certainly still could grow into a strong player. But the Magic had run out of time waiting. This might be the peak of his trade value. And the Magic to get anything valuable in return had to make a move sooner rather than later.

The concern that the team would come back with virtually the same group even with the 10-win improvement was a concern since the team did not get to the Playoffs last year. And did not take the step forward.

Sabonis was largely seen as a safe pick. The Magic did not need a power forward with Aaron Gordon in place and likely in as the starter. It would have been tough to see him crack more than a reserve role on the team. Especially next to another poor defender in Nikola Vucevic.

The Magic were seeking to fill a major need. One they have been after in a long time. And so as the deal began to coalesce Thursday evening and become serious as the Magic were on the clock, the Magic moved forward with this big deal.

“As we look at our team, we really felt like physicality on the interior, toughness, athleticism, rim protection is something we have been talking about for years now as it relates to what our team needs and what holes we need to fill,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. “It’s difficult to find that. Especially in a profile where in Serge’s case he is entering the prime of his career. He can rebound, protect the rim and stretch the floor.”

Ibaka is one of the best shot blockers in the league. He averaged 1.9 blocks per game last year and posted 3.0 defensive win shares and a +1.0 defensive box plus minus.

Ibaka averaged 12.6 points per game and shot 47.9 percent from the floor last year. He has developed a more consistent jumper and has drawn away from the basket. Especially since Steven Adams took over the starting center position for the Thunder.

There are questions about whether Ibaka’s play has tailed off some. But at 26 years old, Ibaka with a more focused role and a return to the paint could help him. Hennigan and Vogel suggested Ibaka could see an expanded role with Orlando this year. And his experience from deep playoff runs with the Thunder and his versatility makes him a benefit to the roster.

“He continued to really anchor their defense,” Hennigan said of Ibaka’s play last year. “Serge is someone who is going to compete, going to scrap and do whatever it takes for his team to win. Serge is about winning and helping the team win. If anything, I think I saw someone who was committed to doing whatever the team asked him to do.”

Ibaka has one year left at $12.3 million. So the Magic are essentially renting him with the opportunity to resign if this works out in 2017. The Magic should maintain some flexibility still if things do not work out. The only risk is cashing in on Oladipo too soon, perhaps.

But the Magic needed to make an impact and make a big move to push themselves to the next level. Orlando struggled to make a measurable improvement on defense last year. With Frank Vogel as head coach and Ibaka now manning the paint, Orlando has the bones of a solid defensive team — adding Ibaka to Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton as known young defenders.

That would be the rationale of this deal.

But the roster is far from complete. Free agency will still play a big role in reshaping the roster. Roles may need to be redefined. The team will change in some significant ways.

Ibaka though adds something the team did not have and was desperate to get. Rim protection, championship-level experience and, perhaps a hunger to do more. The Magic were looking to make a splash.

For better or for worse, they certainly did.

Magic select Stephen Zimmerman in second round

The Orlando Magic selected UNLV center Stephen Zimmerman with the 41st pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Zimmerman is a 7-foot freshman who averaged 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He was originally slated as a first round pick entering the NCAA postseason. An elbow injury had him falling down the charts though.

He has good length for a center and an advanced post game. He has good defensive instincts, averaging 2.0 blocks per game. Zimmerman has decent mobility too.

Zimmerman is a bit slim and will have to gain some muscle. Not to mention prove he is beyond his injury issues.

Next: Ranking the Orlando Magic Draft classes

The Magic traded the 47th overall pick in the draft to Portland for cash considerations and a 2019 second round pick.