By David Arruda
That’s right, it has happened again. Masai Ujiri came out of a trade with everything he wanted. His latest success demonstrates how Ujiri can make trade magic in almost any feasible situation. His move brought in Serge Ibaka from Orlando in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first round pick. Though it occured weeks ago, it was the perfect Valentine’s gift for Raptors fans. Many questions arise from this trade like: “Will Ibaka stay past this year since he is a free agent at the end of the season?” Or “will he be a bust?” But let’s focus on what’s to be expected.
Chris Vernon of the Ringer’s NBA show said that he “hated the trade”—for the Magic, and it’s hard to blame him. The Magic rid of the organization of a player who has made 3 All-NBA defensive teams (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), for Terrence Ross and a late first round pick. One thing that should fly off the sheet immediately is the fact that the trade didn’t include Patrick Patterson. Patterson was included in every possible trade for Paul Milsaup earlier in the year, so it is surprising that he was somehow not included in the trade for Ibaka. Majai knew that it was unlikely for Serge to stay with the Magic past this season, and the organization would make a trade soon because they didn’t want to lose him for nothing. This allowed the Raptors to add a prolific defender, on top of keeping a good defensive player in Patterson. This also allows for the Raptors to play a “death line up” of their own with Kyle Lowry–Demar DeRozan-Patterson-Ibaka, with some Corey Joseph, Demarre Carroll, and Norman Powell into that mix. Not only does this allow the Raptors to improve offensively, but when this line is on the floor the Raptors will have optimal floor spacing with every player, excluding DeRozan, shooting at an admirable 3-point percentage. Ibaka is impressively shooting a career high 39% from behind the arc this year.
With Terrence Ross now out of the Raptor portrait, it cannot be denied that this will open up Powell’s development more than he has already shown throughout his second year in the league. Powell is the team’s most valued trade asset and if there is no future for Powell in the organization, then it gives him the opportunity to show his potential and increase his value. This has been the biggest trade of the season thus far and the potential of its impact on the Raptors organization is incredible. The Raptors are now 3-0 since the addition of the new surge of Ibaka.