Serge Ibaka: ‘I Never Asked To Be Traded [From Thunder]’

by August 31, 2016
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After the Thunder dealt Serge Ibaka to Orlando this summer, there were rumblings that the big fella had grown unhappy with his diminished role in OKC, but he says that’s unfounded.

Ibaka will miss playing for the Thunder—he still hasn’t gotten over blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Golden State Warriors—but is ready to for a fresh start with the Magic.

The big fella wants to share what he learned from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant with his new teammates.

Per Sports Illustrated and The Players’ Tribune:

I never asked to be traded, even though there was a lot of media conjecture that I was unhappy with my role. I had an exit meeting with Billy Donovan and Sam Presti after the season, and both went well. But this is still a business, everybody has to do what’s best for them, and I let my agent deal with the business side of things. I just focus on basketball. I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to go in and ask for a trade, and I would have been happy staying with the Thunder. Playing in the NBA was my dream, and I’d be happy playing anywhere…

 

Right now, though, I feel like a rookie again. I’m thrilled to be in Orlando. I know that might sound crazy to some people, that I’m excited to go from a contender like the Thunder to a rebuilding team, one that hasn’t made the playoffs in four years, but playing now for Frank Vogel, a coach who prides himself on defense, is very exciting for me. We have a core of like-minded, young, athletic players, which is going to be very fun. We are an old-school, smashmouth team, and I can’t wait to don a Magic uniform on opening night.

 

I’m thankful to God for this opportunity. I’m excited, man! It’s a hard challenge. It won’t be easy. I’m going to work hard, like Russ and KD taught me to. I can’t wait to play in front of the fans in Orlando. How lucky am I to go from one city that loves basketball to another? With Disney World nearby, I know my daughter — Ranie, she’s 10 — is going to love it, too. […] I couldn’t be more excited to play with the young big men in Orlando. There’s a lot of talent on this team. We’re going to be flying around the court this year. I’m looking forward to going to work with them. I’m a different player than when I first came into the league. I understand that it’s time for me to take on a new role. Now I’m going to be one of the veterans.