It’s no secret the Toronto Raptors are in the market for a power forward and Serge Ibaka‘s name continues to come up. However, I’d say let’s be realistic and temper expectations.
For whatever reason, the Toronto Raptors have been in need of an upgrade at the power forward position since Chris Bosh departed the franchise in 2010-11 to join the Miami Heat. While there has been contributors at the position, a bona fide option at the four continues to evade the Raptors.
There have been rumours about Paul Millsap, who is apparently off the market now, DeMarcus Cousins, who, according to Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac, isn’t leaving Sacramento, and now there are rumours about Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka is somebody the Raptors inquired about during the offseason when he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Toronto balked at the idea of acquiring the 27-year-old Congo native because OKC’s asking price was ridiculous. Looking back on it, the rumoured asking price of Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Patrick Patterson and the No. 9 pick in the 2016 draft was not just ridiculous, it was blasphemous.
But, hey, if the New York Knicks have taught us anything, there’s always one sucker in the room, which tends to be James Dolan. The Magic weren’t quite the “sucker in the room,” but they did eventually pay a handsome price to acquire Ibaka by trading Victor Oladipo and the No. 11 pick.
Unfortunately for the Magic, after a confusing offseason and a lackluster first half, I think it’s safe to say the Ibaka trade hasn’t worked out. So now Orlando is stuck with Ibaka’s expiring contract, a crowded frontcourt that doesn’t really mesh together and a future of uncertainty. All these factors have led to Ibaka being mentioned in trade rumours, since you would think Orlando doesn’t want to potentially lose him for nothing.
Now here’s where the Raptors come into play. Given their past interest in Ibaka, and desire to upgrade at power forward, he’s a logical trade target and it makes sense if the Raptors were still interested in him. Well, according to Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, Toronto is in fact still interested in Ibaka.
"Toronto has had its eye on landing a power forward like Orlando’s Serge Ibaka before the trade deadline, a source said.– Marc Stein, The Undefeated"
Not to discredit Spears, who is as plugged into the league as anyone, but this report is extremely vague. I mean, when you consider the Raptors made an offer for Ibaka this past summer, why wouldn’t they be interested in him now? I thought Toronto’s interest in him was a foregone conclusion at this point, so I don’t think we should read too much into this report.
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With Ibaka being a great fit for the Raptors, the idea of acquiring him all comes down to cost. He’s set to earn $12.25 million this season, which makes constructing a trade for him easy, but the risk of losing him long-term is a genuine concern when you consider Patterson and Lowry are set to become free agents this offseason. Could Toronto afford to bring all three players back? Or would they pay a premium price and only re-sign two of the three players?
Also, would Magic general manager Rob Hennigan agree to a deal that includes let’s say Terrence Ross and a first-round pick? If he’s not looking to recoup value from the previous deal he made for Ibaka, a deal centred around Ross and a draft pick would make sense, but it’s debatable whether that kind of deal interests the Magic.
In theory, Toronto could play hardball with Orlando since the Magic are the ones in a bind, not the Raptors. However, despite cost and possible negotiation tactics, the fact remains the Raptors could use a player like Ibaka, and the Magic would be best to not lose him for nothing, although they do have the cap space to possibly re-sign him in the offseason.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, it will be interesting to see how the Ibaka storyline plays out. Does he stay in the Sunshine State? Or is he shipped out to a better situation like Toronto?
What do you think of the Ibaka rumours? What would you give up to acquire him? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.