Orlando Magic take their shot with Serge Ibaka

May 10, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) reacts after a shot against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) reacts after a shot against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic shifted gears, aggressively pursuing a major change to the roster to bring in an elite skill set. The team is pushed in for Serge Ibaka.

The Orlando Magic were biding their time, building through the draft and making careful selections. There were surely opportunities they passed on for big names. But Rob Hennigan waited.

This group needed more time to gel. The young players needed to mature some more. There was time to be patient and wait for things to coalesce.

Related Story: 10 games that change the Orlando Magic's season

Year Three turned into Year Four. The win total was inching up but not moving.

Opportunity had to come and action had to be made quickly as the hours passed on Thursday. Exploratory talk quickly turned serious early in the evening Thursday.

It was finally time to strike and make a transformative deal to the Magic’s roster. Something that shook the roster up in one way or another and filled an important need.

Orlando made its move to take the team forward. A risk in giving up the player they had committed so much to developing. But also an opportunity to address a need and bring a player with a truly elite skill and some veteran experience.

“We’ve got so many young players on this roster, sometimes to get over that hump where you want to go as a team, you’ve got to balance your youth and experience a little bit more,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We have a lot of youth and we’re probably a little short on experience. This helps us do that.”

Serge Ibaka may not move the needle for the Magic when it comes to free agents. But Ibaka is the kind of player a team needs around to anchor a defense. The team is certainly better on defense.

Even as Frank Vogel spoke about teaching Nikola Vucevic about taking better angles to close out and stop offensive players, it was easy to tell he was truly excited about the elite shot blocking Ibaka would give him as a backstop.

“It’s not something I came in and requested we got in and try to pursue,” coach Frank Vogel said. “I feel like we can do a lot with Vuc in terms of teaching him angles and anticipation similarly to the way we used Roy Hibbert a couple years ago. I feel like he is going to improve dramatically in that regard.

“But when Serge became available, he is top five in the league in blocks for five straight years. He is a premiere defender. When he became available, obviously I got very excited.”

That is the only way to explain it. The Magic brought in a player with an elite skill that completely changes the face of the Magic’s defensive identity. Something Vogel was clearly brought in to focus on and evolve in a team that has drafted mostly defense-first players.

There is risk involved in the Magic’s move to acquire Ibaka. The team traded a fan favorite in Oladipo and someone who seemed on the verge of stardom.

Fans quickly point to his 30-point performances and his ability to get to the rim with ease. Oladipo was the closest thing the Magic had to a star. With a dynamic personality, he connected well with fans.

He also did not improve much from his promising 2015 season. The Magic sold high on a player that may still have star potential but had not grown to that level yet. Consistency matters.

And the Magic are facing the pressure of needing to take a surer more tangible step forward. Doing things the old way is not going to cut it, quite simply. The roster needed changes.

There was a hunger to make a big move from the fan base. To take a risk and begin cashing in the chips.

Many expected and hoped the Magic would take that leap and acquire a star — like Jimmy Butler, a longtime focus for Magic fans. That may not have been the reality. The reality might be that Oladipo could only net a quasi-star like Ibaka.

Unlike Oladipo though, Ibaka has an elite skill. Something that cannot be properly tracked by statistics.

This move could completely backfire. Ibaka’s statistics have begun to regress in the last few years. Even his more advanced defensive statistics are not looking as strong — his blocks per game have decreased as have his defensive win shares and defensive box plus-minus.

Oladipo still is a player on the rise and could realize that potential — even in a smaller role with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It was time to take a chance though. The Magic have waited four years on this rebuild for something to germinate. The growth has been slow. And with pressure mounting to make the Playoffs, the Magic clearly needed to push forward force change if it would not come naturally.

Oladipo is a hard player to let go. He represented a lot of hope and promise. The Magic though were ready to move forward. For better or for worse.

It is not the only move the Magic need to make. There is still a lot of work to do to fill out the roster and make it a Playoff team.

But the message was clear: the Magic are ready to take a chance and be aggressive to improve the team. They have done what it takes to bring in talent with elite abilities to build a team.

Next: Orlando Magic appear to have hired Chase Forcier

They have taken their shot now.