Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Ibaka gets excited about Magic

ORLANDO — A week ago after waking up in Paris to flurry of congratulatory text messages, Serge Ibaka wasn't quite sure how to feel about the NBA draft night trade that landed him in Orlando.

But one text message in particular helped him feel better about his transition from the Thunder — a team contending for an NBA championship — to a young Magic team just trying to make the postseason.

"One of things that made me feel good at that moment was dad texted me," Ibaka said Thursday a news conference. "Before I could get excited and happy, my dad was happy. He congratulated me and said he was real happy for me. That's what changed everything at the moment.

"This is a business, and things happen for a reason. So I'm happy to be here and for my family and for my daughter."

The Magic aggressively went after Ibaka, trading Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis (the No. 11 overall pick) for the power forward. They sought an inside presence and leadership; Ibaka, a veteran who has gone deep into the playoffs, gives them both.

Orlando hopes the 6-foot-10 Ibaka is the player it missed last season, its fourth in a row out of the playoffs. The three-time All-Defense first team member is one of the league's top shot blockers.

"Serge Ibaka is such an important piece to taking this organization to where we want to take it, to become a defensive monster, be one of the best defensive teams in the league," new Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "We are going to preach defense as much as I always have. But you have to have the people that can get the job done."

Ibaka, who wore a black T-shirt with Orlando United on front in recognition of the recent club shooting tragedy that left 50 dead and another 53 injured, said he looks forward to what will likely be an expanded role that will include being more of a leader and offensive presence as well as his defensive muscle.

"It feels good," said Ibaka, a native of Congo. "I feel like my first year in the league, I'm that excited. I'm looking forward to the new challenge. I know it's not going to be easier. That's how we become great when we beat the challenges in front of you."

Noah talking to Knicks: Bulls center and former Florida standout Joakim Noah will meet with the Knicks today, the first full day of free agency, the New York Post reported.

Cavaliers: The champions made a qualifying offer to backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, making him a restricted free agent.

Clippers: Lawrence Frank was promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations under Doc Rivers. Frank, the former Nets and Pistons coach, spent the past two seasons as an assistant under Rivers, who is both coach and president of basketball operations.

Mavericks: Center Salah Mejri had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, a procedure that isn't expected to sideline the 7-foot-2 Tunisian during the season.

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Published: 02/19/18