The Orlando Magic weren’t itching to trade Victor Oladipo, but in the end, it’s a move they felt they had to make.
“We hated to see Victor Oladipo go, but when you get a 26-year-old shot-blocker and rebounder and defender with some offensive ability, that’s a pretty good addition to your front line,” Magic vice president Pat Williams said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “So we felt it was a positive move for us and will strengthen us.”
Williams, of course, is referring to Orlando’s draft-night trade, which sent Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis to Oklahoma City for Serge Ibaka. A three-time all-defensive player, Ibaka led the league in blocks for four straight seasons and has finished in the top four in that department each of the last two years.
Williams sees the trade as a step in the right direction for Orlando, which has gone from 20 wins to 23 wins to 25 wins to 35 wins over the last four seasons.
“I don’t think we’re tired of the rebuild, but it’s time to really start contending,” Williams said. “We won 10 more games (this year) than the year before, which was nice progress, and I think with this move, we can play with most of the teams in East now. We’ve really strengthened our front line. Our fans have been wonderful, but it’s time to step it up a notch, and this move last night, I think, is going to make us a much more competitive ball club.”
In addition to Ibaka, the Magic will welcome head coach Frank Vogel to the mix next season. Vogel, 43, replaces Scott Skiles, who resigned in May.
“Frank Vogel has made a very, very strong impression,” Williams said. “He’s a basketball lifer. He gets along very well with players. He’s made a very, very nice impression. He’s working now on hiring his staff, but so far, Frank’s been very, very positive down here. We’re glad we’ve got him. He’s a young veteran who knows what he’s doing. We’ve got a very nice young coach with him.”
In other news, Carmelo Anthony has committed to play for the U.S. team at the Olympics this summer in Brazil. Brandon Tierney, however, doesn’t think that aging players with an extensive injury history should play in the Olympics.
“Listen, if Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski offer you a spot on the team, you accept it,” Williams said. “I can understand why they would decline it, but it’s a huge honor. It’s a wonderful tribute when you’re invited. I would have a very hard time turning it down, but Jerry’s going to end up with 12 good players. He’ll have 12 good ones.”
But shouldn’t Knicks brass step in and ask Anthony to reconsider?
“Obviously Carmelo wants to do it,” Williams said. “I think he’s very proud to be invited. It would be tough to go and say to him, ‘Carmelo, decline it.’ I think that would be tough. So he’ll be down there in Brazil and representing the United States. It’ll be a good team. We’ve got so many good players in the NBA that if 20 guys decline, there are 40 more good ones. It’ll be interesting to see what (the final roster) looks like.”