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Big veteran Serge Ibaka has agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Shams Harania from the stadium and The Athletic announced Saturday night.
The terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Ibaka enjoyed a bit of a renaissance a season ago when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. He averaged 1
Head coach Nick Sister has slightly reduced his role in the playoffs, when teams often rely on smaller teams. However, Ibaka remained effective. He averaged 16.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in 36 minutes, according to the Basketball Reference, during the team title.
Many thought the Raptors would take a step back in 2020-21 after losing to Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Instead, they finished with the second best record (53-19) in the Eastern Conference.
Ibaka’s performance was one of the reasons why the reigning champions did not suffer from a hangover when they re-offered. He averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. He also shot 38.5% of his shots beyond the arc.
Given how well he performed in his short time north of the border, the Raptors would probably rewrite Ibaka in their perfect world. However, they may have entered the off-season with a hard ceiling on how much they would like to pay him.
Basketball Operations President Masai Ujiri has the opportunity to significantly reshape the list in the coming years.
Here is the list of players that Raptors have under contract for the 2021-22 season:
- Pascal Siakam
- Norman Powell (player option)
- Hernandez Council
- Matt Thomas
OG Anunoby and Terence Davis are also limited free agents.
If Ujiri wants to pursue a free agent in 2021 – for example, Janis Antetokunmpo – he will have room to limit wages to do so. Especially since the franchise has won a championship to reduce the need to win now, maintaining a level of financial flexibility for the future could be Ujiri’s top priority.
Toronto will have to do it again next offseason, when Kyle Lowry is an unlimited free agent. As lowry as it meant for the franchise, Ujiri could leave the mood at the door to surround Siakam with the strongest possible supporting cast.
The Raptors ‘loss is the Clippers’ profit.
Ibaka’s skill set makes him the perfect hub for today’s NBA. He can distribute the floor and score inside an attack. In defense, he kept the opponent’s shooters up to 51.5 percent inside six feet, according to NBA.com.
The centers are not usually valued as much as they were in previous generations, but a 7-footer that can protect the rim and stretch the floor is still a valued commodity.