Serge Ibaka, a free agent next summer, will be Toronto Raptors’ prime target in the 2017 offseason, per sources close to the organization.
Ibaka, who spent seven seasons with the Oklahaoma City Thunder, was traded to the Orlando Magic in June. However, it’s highly unlikely that the athletic forward re-signs with the Magic.
Serge Ibaka warrants a max
According to Raptors beat writer Doug Smith, the Raptors will have a busy offseason next year which would include re-signing Kyle Lowry and pursing Ibaka with a maximum-level contact.
“Rest assured, at this moment – and all know how things can change – I know a free agent Serge Ibaka is very much on their minds and without knowing the total math or 2017 numbers, I imagine they have a scenario in mind where it could work,” Smith wrote last weekend.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has known fellow African Ibaka since his days as a teenager. According to SportsNet, Ujiri tried to trade for Ibaka before June’s draft night.
“Patience has been his (Ujiri’s) calling card and he could be wise to wait another year. In the summer of 2017 Ibaka – who Ujiri has known since the Cameroonian was a teenager – is a free agent when all he would cost the Raptors is money.”
Lowry, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Raptors prior to the 2014-15 season, has a player option on the last year of his contract at the end of the coming season.
Needless to say, Lowry will warrant nothing less than a max deal, when you consider the contracts that the likes of Allen Crabbe and Evan Fournier received this summer.
Forced to trade Terrence Ross?
The Raptors would have to move Terrence Ross’ contract in order to sign both Lowry and Ibaka to maximum-level contracts. Since the Raptors own Lowry’s Bird Rights, it would be mathematically feasible. Remember, the salary cap skyrockets to over $100 million next summer. Ross has three years and $31 million left on his contract.
A starting lineup featuring Jonas Valanciunas, Ibaka, DeMarre Carroll, DeMar DeRozan and Lowry should hold the Raptors in good stead for many years to come.
With Valanciunas, Caroll and DeRozan secured for at least a few more years, Raptors have a clear path laid out for the future.
Serge Ibaka should prove to be a great compliment to Valanciunas in the frontcourt. While Valanciunas isn’t a poor rim protector by any stretch of the imagination, he would benefit from Ibaka’s presence, who has made a career out of blocking and altering shots.