One look at this year’s crop of free agents shows an abundance of talent at the power forward position. While there are indeed plenty of intriguing prospects for the 30 NBA teams, Serge Ibaka might be on top of the wish list for squads looking to beef up their interior.
So far, all signs indicate that the 31-year-old Congolese-Spanish slotman would be swapping jerseys next season. His current team, the Toronto Raptors, seems keen on retaining their other big-time free agent Fred Van Vleet. The rumblings even grew louder when Serge Ibaka deleted the Raptors from his social media bio.
Ibaka’s stock is at an all-time high at the moment after he balled out in his contract year for the Raptors. The three-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member recorded a career-best 15.4 points in 55 regular-season games. After a lackluster 29 percent shooting clip from downtown last year, Serge Ibaka upped his efficiency to 38.5 percent this season.
He was even more locked-in come the postseason, draining an incredible 51.1 percent of his triples in 11 playoff games.
Serge Ibaka may no longer be the defensive menace he was when he first entered the league, but his ability to stretch the floor at his position is a hot commodity in today’s modern game.
The one-time NBA champion will have no shortage of suitors looking to avail his services — particularly contenders looking boost their chances. Let’s have a look at three of the best landing spots for Serge Ibaka.
Golden State Warriors
Serge Ibaka might know that the Dubs are in the market for a big after head coach Steve Kerr recently admitted that his roster needs to get bigger and more athletic to compete with some of the best teams next season.
The Warriors are no stranger to Ibaka’s capabilities at both ends of the floor, as he helped the Raps defeat the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. His highly-evolved game would be perfect for Golden State’s intricate system. Serge’s championship experience would also be valuable for the Dubs’ quest to return to their lost glory.
In fact, Serge Ibaka’s potential signing already has the approval of one of the Warriors’ all-time greats, Rick Barry.
Golden State has plenty of options to acquire a big of their choosing via the upcoming draft or through trade. However, plucking Serge Ibaka from free agency might just be their safest bet, considering they won’t have to give up any assets to acquire a battle-tested veteran of his caliber.
The Warriors won’t have a problem on D with him and Draymond Green down low. His ability to hit the long ball another poses an even bigger threat for opposing teams, which would allow even better looks for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Following their second-round exit at the hands of eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers, it’s evident that changes are in order H-Town. They obviously need to get bigger up front without compromising their fast and free-flowing offense.
Serge Ibaka might just be the right guy to fix this dilemma. His vastly-improved range bodes wonders for the trigger-happy Rockets. But more importantly, the two-time blocks leader gives them a rim protector which they have been lacking since they let go of Clint Capela.
Moreover, Serge Ibaka already has a rapport with Houston’s two superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook from their Oklahoma City Thunder days.
The exit of former Rockets GM Daryl Morey signals a new era in Houston, in which they could once again entertain 7-footers in the roster. They can’t go wrong with adding a guy like Serge Ibaka.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers will be in need of a replacement for Motrezl Harrell, who is expected to move to greener pastures and chase a big payday in free agency.
While not as athletic as the 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner, Serge Ibaka might actually be a better fit for the Tyronn Lue-mentored squad. His ability to space the floor opens up more lanes for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to wreak havoc — something that Harrell was unable to provide.
Plus, Serge Ibaka won’t take away touches from the Clips’ superstars, considering he is not a volume shooter. He’d be happy to get his points from kick-out passes and offensive rebounds.
Ibaka’s greatest value, however, is what he can provide for the Clippers off the court. The star-studded team has been plagued with chemistry issues this year, which caused their disastrous breakdown in the playoffs.
Serge Ibaka already has a great relationship with Leonard from their brief but fruitful tenure as teammates in 2018-19 with the Raptors. The pair even won a championship together that year.