If Serge Ibaka is healthy he’d definitely give the Toronto Raptors a surge. Now Ibaka might not be in his prime anymore, but that’s fine. He is still a very good power forward in the NBA.
What is the Raptors greatest flaw?
Outside of Patrick Patterson, the Raptors don’t have any competent power forwards. This weakness has been known to the Raptors for a few years now. Last season Luis Scola didn’t play defense. This season rookie Pascal Siakam hasn’t been consistent on either side of the ball. Serge Ibaka is a better Patrick Patterson. He can stretch the floor and defend on the perimeter or inside the paint. Serge Ibaka is averaging 15.2PPG, 6.9RPG, 1.6BPG, and shooting 48.5% from the field and 38.7% from 3. I dare you to check Patrick Patterson’s numbers this season. They aren’t as good.
Serge Ibaka is a rental
People tend to look a rental as a bad thing because there is uncertainty if the player will return at the end of the season. It all comes down to the situation. The Raptors are in a situation where they have a decent team and desperately need a good power forward. A rental or an expiring contract isn’t going to be valuable to a team that is bottoming out, but that’s not where the Raptors are right now. If the Raptors want to say competitive in the East Conference they will need to address this issue. The great thing about an expiring contract like Serge Ibaka is the Raptors wouldn’t be committed to him if he doesn’t make the Raptors a better team.
“Hey now, are you suggesting the Raptors should give up assets for Serge Ibaka and just let him walk at the end of the season?”
I’m suggesting if Ibaka doesn’t make the Raptors significantly better that they do not re-sign him. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t make sense to double down.
“Okay. Let’s say Ibaka makes the Raptors competitive with the Cavs. Are you suggesting they pay him a 5-year full max as well as Kyle Lowry who will also be a free agent?”
That would be cap hell. However, I do think there are ways to bring back Serge Ibaka. First off, I don’t think the anyone is going to offer Serge Ibaka $30M-$40M/YR. To re-sign Ibaka and Lowry the Raptors would almost certainly have to shed salary. So the Raptors would likely have to find someone to take DeMarre Carroll’s contract. Also, Jared Sullinger and Patrick Patterson would both likely be gone. It’s difficult, but not impossible for the Raptors to offer Serge Ibaka a $25M/YR deal.
“So why don’t the Raptors wait until Ibaka is a free agent to sign him rather than giving up assets?”
Since the Raptors will be over the cap they need to trade for Ibaka’s bird rights to be able to re-sign him.
“Are the Raptors willing to pay the luxury tax?”
Masai Ujiri has stated that MLSE is willing to pay the tax under the right circumstances. If Serge Ibaka isn’t the right circumstance I don’t know what is.
What is the package that gets Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic?
The deal that could make sense for both sides is Terrence Ross, Delon Wright, and both the Raptors first round picks (Raptors own pick and the Clippers pick they own).
“Are you kidding me? Why would the Raptors give away two first round picks in a loaded draft?”
First, those picks will likely be in the 20s, so they aren’t as valuable as people may think. Next, the young guys on the Raptors aren’t getting enough playing time as it is. How can the Raptors add more youth when Norman Powell and Jakob Poeltl aren’t getting enough minutes? Finally, the one major hole the Raptors have on their roster is at power forward. If they keep the picks they would almost be locked into drafting a power forward regardless if there was a better talent available at another position or not.
“So the Magic would do this deal?”
Looking at the Magic they are loaded with big men, so they probably don’t need one back. However, they could use a wing to play beside Evan Fournier. That’s where Terrence Ross comes into play. They could also use a point guard. That’s where Delon Wright comes into play. It’s unclear what kind of a player Wright will be at this point, but he has upside and the Magic aren’t making the playoffs anyways. And finally, the Magic are rewarded with a pair of first-round picks. Yeah, the deal might not be as good as what they gave up to get Serge Ibaka, but it is the best deal they are going to get for a rental at this point in the season.
“But Paul Millsap and DeMarcus Cousins are better!”
The Raptors aren’t getting DeMarcus Cousins. Don’t send me pictures of Cousins in a Leafs jersey in the snow or Raptors retro shorts. It’s NOT happening! The Raptors cannot afford to pull all their eggs in the Paul Millsap trade basket. If it happens it’s great, but Serge Ibaka is the next best thing and a very realistic trade option for the Raptors.