The Clippers may have made the lowest move in the offseason. According to several reports, Los Angeles has signed Serge Ibaka to a $ 19 million two-year deal Saturday. The second year of the contract will be a player option.
Ibaka, 31, has spent the last three and a half seasons with the Raptors. The Clippers lost JaMychal Green to the Nuggets and Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers earlier this week, but are in relegation by signing the former first-team defender. Ibaka averaged 15.4 points per game for the Raptors last season, while shooting 38.5% from three. Let us judge the agreement.
Grade: A +
This is my favorite feature of the offseason for everyone involved. Ibaka is a mid-level stealer. He arrives in LA at only a slightly higher price than the one Denver signed Green for. It’s an even more team- and player-friendly deal than the one Jae Crowder got from the Suns. And Ibaka is better than both of these players. He is an incredibly valuable team defender who can protect multiple positions and let the Clippers have great front-line flexibility. Ibaka can play in the center next to Marcus Morris or by power forward next to Ivica Zubac. He has shown himself willing to get off the bench. And his size should especially come in handy in potential playoff matchups against Nikola Jokic or Anthony Davis. While losing Montrezl Harrell to their intracity rival might hurt, Ibaka – though not as explosively offensively – is undoubtedly a better fit thanks to his versatility and spaciousness.
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Not only does Ibaka’s arrival strengthen what the Clippers can do; his signature is doubly delicious to them because it keeps him from other challengers. The Lakers, Nets and Raptors were all interested, but Ibaka ultimately chose the Clips. He has a great relationship with Kawhi Leonard from their Toronto days, and his playoff experience should be very valuable for a team coming out of an extremely disappointing exit from the second round. And as far as the actual contract goes, not only is Ibaka a better player than most guys who get the mid-level exemption, neither party was obliged to make a long-term commitment. Ibaka can go into free agency next year if the experiment does not work (or Kawhi and Paul George also want out.) And Clips did not have to make some sort of Gordon Hayward or Danilo Gallinari deal for someone who was on the wrong side of 30.
The stars really adapted to the Clippers on this deal. While they are probably not done tinkering – the point guard can still use some help – winning Ibaka competitions will go a long way in getting them closer to the expectations they set for themselves when Kawhi and PG joined the team.