Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka opens up about difficult departure

Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Speaking about his departure from the Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka made it clear he never wanted to leave but was not happy with the contract offer he got.

When word got out that Serge Ibaka was leaving the Toronto Raptors, it was seen as a big blow not only to the roster but with fans who grew to appreciate his candour both on and off the court.

It seemed like the Raptors had a good chance to keep Ibaka and now we know that he never intended on leaving the team. Speaking to reporters about his departure from the team, Ibaka explained his intentions to stay in Toronto and what essentially pushed him out the door.

"“I didn’t even really think about leaving Toronto, till the end and everything started and we have meetings with Masai and Bobby,” Ibaka explained. “It felt like things were not going the same direction we were thinking. I said a lot of times, I’m gonna stay… I wanted to stay on the Raptors, but at the last minute things changed… and me I try to make some last-minute decisions.”"

More from Tip of the Tower

Part of the issue according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange was that the Raptors were looking to see what Marc Gasol was going to do in free agency. It’s no secret that Ibaka felt like the second option and it made him feel unvalued considering he only received a one-year offer from Toronto.

He then took a two-year deal from the Los Angeles Clippers which some believe was a misstep for Toronto. They did their best to recover by signing Aron Baynes and Alex Len while also planning to give Chris Boucher more opportunity.

What the Raptors will also miss with Ibaka’s departure is a steady veteran presence. Those intangibles are something Pascal Siakam believes Toronto will miss with Ibaka gone.

"“I mean, now, I have to figure out a way to talk a little bit more with Serge gone, Serge was kind of like that voice for most of us sometimes. Just being a leader and different things I have to be better at.”"

This is something the Raptors were going to have to deal with at some points. Of course, they probably didn’t expect it this early they are also thinking beyond this upcoming season.

The attention now falls on Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry who are viewed as the main core of the team. If they can contribute like the team expects then they should be able to remain competitive in the East.

If not, many will look back and wonder if the front office would have taken a different approach with a player like Ibaka.

light. Related Story. How Malachai Flynn fits the roster

Do you think the Raptors made the wrong decision with Ibaka? How much will his departure impact their chances this season? Let us know in the comments below.