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The great veteran Serge Ibaka has agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers, reported Shams Charania from Stadium and The Athletic Saturday night.
The terms of trade were not immediately available.
Ibaka enjoyed a bit of a renaissance a season ago when the Toronto Raptors won an NBA championship. He averaged 1
Head coach Nick Nurse reduced his role a bit in the playoffs, as teams often rely on smaller lineups. Back, however, remained effective. He averaged 16.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. 36 minutes, according to the Basketball Reference, during the team’s title race.
Many thought the Raptors would take a step back in 2020-21 after losing 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 the reigning champions did not suffer a hangover in their repeated bids. He averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. He also shot down 38.5 percent of his shots beyond the arc.
Given how well he has done in his short time north of the border, the Raptors would probably have signed Ibaka in their perfect world. They may have gone out of season with a fixed ceiling on how much they are willing to pay him though.
President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has the opportunity to significantly reshape the list in the coming years.
Here is the list of players that the Raptors have under contract for the 2021-22 season:
- Pascal Siakam
- Norman Powell (player option)
- Hernandez Council
- Matt Thomas
AND Anunoby and Terence Davis are also limited free agents.
If Ujiri wants to pursue a tent-free agent in 2021 – e.g. Giannis Antetokounmpo – does he have the salary cap to do it. Especially with the franchise having captured a championship to lessen the need to win now, maintaining a level of financial flexibility for the future may be Ujiri’s top priority.
Toronto will have to do this again and again out of season when Kyle Lowry is an unlimited free agent. As much as Lowry has meant to the franchise, Ujiri could leave the mood at the door to enclose Siakam with as strong a support crew as possible.
The Raptors ‘loss is the Clippers’ gain.
Ibaka’s skill set makes him the ideal center for today’s NBA. He can place the floor and score inside on offense. For defense, he kept opposing shooters at 51.5 percent within six feet per second. NBA.com.
Centers are generally not valued as much as they were in previous generations, but a 7-foot that can protect the rim and stretch the floor is still a valued item.