Serge Ibaka
Feb 3, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka (7) shoots the ball over Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at Amway Center. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. That only means that countless NBA teams will be very busy to try and improve their roster for the upcoming playoffs. The first domino may have just fallen as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a very big trade to acquire the Orlando Magic’s Serge Ibaka. Surely, the move will make a dramatic impact on the entire Eastern Conference landscape.

Serge Ibaka was once part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “big three” together with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He was traded during the off-season though to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo. During the first part of the season, Ibaka was not playing like himself with the Magic. Now, he may get a chance to redeem himself as he has just been traded to one of the serious contenders in the East.

The Toronto Raptors acquired Ibaka from the Orlando Magic on Tuesday in exchange for shooting guard Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round draft pick. The trade was a perfect move for Toronto given that they have a gaping hole at the power forward spot. With Ibaka, the Raptors have a capable shot blocker on defense and a reliable stretch four on offence.

The Orlando Magic may seem like they are on the losing end of the trade, although the move was likely motivated by the team’s belief that they cannot re-sign Ibaka during the off-season. According to SB Nation, Ibaka is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and Orlando may not have the salary cap space to re-sign him. It is certainly a very poor move on paper and will likely make Orlando fans cringe for years to come.

Serge Ibaka joining the Raptors is certainly the big news here. The Raptors were able to reach the Eastern Conference Finals last year when they eventually fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Noticeably absent during the series was Toronto's interior defence, which Ibaka immediately addressed.

If indeed the Raptors and the Cavaliers would face each other again, it will certainly become even more competitive this time around. Sports Illustrated reports that Ibaka is “a major upgrade” at the power forward spot for the Raptors. It remains to be seen, though, if the move will help translate to wins right off the bat.

Be sure to check back here soon to find out more NBA trade news as the NBA trade deadline inches closer.