Serge Ibaka admitted that he was initially shocked to have been traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Orlando Magic, but he is now looking forward to the new challenge that awaits him.
Ibaka was an integral part of the Thunder’s line-up and is now looking to help guide the Magic through a difficult rebuilding period.
Last season, the Magic missed out on the playoffs after finishing with a 35-47 record, but Ibaka is excited about playing alongside the young talents the franchise has acquired over the last couple of seasons.
“One of things that made me feel good at that moment was Dad texted me,” Ibaka told reporters. “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.”
“It feels good. 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.
“They have great guys and young talent. It’s always good to know I am going to work with good people. I’m excited because I know I’m going to bring to them.”
Magic head coach Frank Vogel, who only took up the job last month, is excited about having Ibaka on board even though the 26-year-old was not at his best last season, in which he averaged 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
“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,” 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.”