Serge Ibaka was traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Orlando Magic on draft night while he was sleeping in Paris.
"Then came June 24, Thursday night, and my phone started buzzing with alarming frequency," said Ibaka. "We were at dinner when I started to get text messages, tweets — all types of people reaching out and asking about the rumors. At first, I had no idea what anyone was talking about. Then I recalled it was draft night, and saw talk that the Thunder, the team that drafted me in 2008 and the only NBA team I’ve ever played for, were thinking about trading me.
"Still, I assumed the rumors were just, well, rumors. We live with these kinds of things all the time, and there are always rumblings around draft time, so I was confident that this was nothing of substance. I was so confident, in fact, that I decided to turn my phone off, and after dinner went straight back to the hotel to go to sleep."
After the trade, Ibaka spoke with Rob Hennigan and he says "that conversation made me feel good about my new opportunity and the future."
Ibaka had a somewhat disappointing 15-16 season individually with a lesser role within the Thunder but his continued value as a defensive player and floor stretcher were clear in the playoffs.
"I never asked to be traded, even though there was a lot of media conjecture that I was unhappy with my role," said Ibaka. "I had an exit meeting with Billy Donovan and Sam Presti after the season, and it 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.
"Still, I’m really going to miss Oklahoma City. The fans love basketball there and the Thunder is one of the best organizations in sports. It’s been a tough summer for them for sure. I didn’t know what Kevin was going to do but I know it was a big decision for him, and if it makes him and his family happy then I’m happy for him. I have the utmost respect for both him and Russell Westbrook. Obviously, I’m disappointed that our group was never able to bring the city a championship, but I had some great times there, and so many moments I’ll never forget.
"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.
"The trade has given me a renewed opportunity to show you all of what I can do, and I can’t wait to see what happens in Orlando. We’re going to make some noise. It’s been a crazy summer, and I’m very ready for the fall to begin."