Grading the Milwaukee Bucks’ trade deadline deal for Serge Ibaka

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Bucks have a new center on the roster following yesterday’s NBA trade deadline. First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the defending champions acquired veteran big man Serge Ibaka in a mega-four-team deal on Thursday. The move was certainly a surprise, given that the center had not been linked to Milwaukee in any rumors before the trade was made. The deal is an interesting one, and let us take a closer look at it by breaking it down and giving it final a grade.

What the Milwaukee Bucks traded for in the Serge Ibaka deal

The Bucks traded for a quality big man in this deal that will temporarily help patch the issues they are facing their center position. Of course, starting center Brook Lopez has appeared in one game this season due to back issues, and the Bucks have explored many avenues to try and fill the void. Elevating Bobby Portis into the starting five has proven to be a winning formula, but the team has struggled to find a backup, with DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe both spending time with the franchise. Ibaka is better than both players on impact.

While Ibaka is no longer the three-time All-Defensive honoree or two-time block champion that he once was, the 6-foot-10 center is just what the Bucks needed right now. Ibaka gives Milwaukee a household name that is a reputable defender to play the center position behind Portis. The center will provide another strong defensive body in the lineup, posing a threat as a shot-blocker that is imposing for opponents. Lineups with Ibaka alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Milwaukee’s other top-tier defenders will be fascinating to watch.

Ibaka’s defense is what stands out the most in this deal, but he is no slouch on the offensive end either, although he is having a down year by averaging 6.6 points per game. Thankfully, the Bucks will not be overly-dependent on Ibaka’s scoring, but his solid 3-point shooting could certainly be useful for this team. According to, Ibaka is shooting 22-of-56 (39.3 percent) on his catch-and-shoot threes this year, and he will get no shortage of those tries with the Bucks. If he can knock them down with the same consistency, it is icing on the cake for Milwaukee.

Getting Ibaka alone would have been sufficient for the Bucks, but they got some added pieces in this one that are intriguing. As reported by Wojnarowski, Milwaukee received two second round picks and cash in the deal, which makes this even better. Overall, it was an incredibly solid return, considering what the defending champions gave up.