At the moment the details are very small and the conditions are not fully understood, but on the same day the Toronto Raptors were able to retain their free-agent point guard, they lost their most viable big man.
Excited to hear the news that Fred Vanvilleit has re-signed with Toronto on Saturday morning, Serge Ibaka signed a two-year deal worth $ 19 million with Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
The move – unexpectedly unexpected – leaves the Raptors without another member of their championship core, one of the most colorful players in the franchise history, and currently without a viable center under contract.
Shortly after the deal was announced, Raptors president Masai Uziri sent a text message saying, “We will be fine.”
Uziri and Raptors general manager Bobby Webster deserve more than the benefit of the doubt at this stage, as they have seven consecutive playoff appearances to their credit for not mentioning the 2019 title. But it is very difficult to reverse the notion that Ibaka is leaving unless it is a huge blow to a team hoping to compete for the championships.
At present it is difficult to change the combination of IBACA’s floor-spread shooting and defensive capability.
The other current center of the Raptors, Mark Gasol, is a free agent who earns his interest elsewhere and the other adults on the list are the smaller Chris Boucher – who has never played consistent NBA minutes – and the second – Devan Hernandez, a long-term project, of Uziri’s ‘OK’ The definition may be relative.
Hard to argue, he was going to become a folk hero in Toronto by the time Ibaka was ready to leave.
The slick-shooting center with the chiseled frame and cheekbones changed from distant and quiet at the beginning of his tour, the weak playoff performances to his name were loose and free, and one of the Raptors’ most important playoff heroes. His last games for Toronto were his best.
He played some episodes here for four seasons after coming out of the Orlando Magic at the commercial deadline in 2017 and seemed to be improving every year in subtle and so subtle ways – no small feat for those with so many professional miles in their tires.
Last year was his 11th season and perhaps his best – he averaged 20 points and rebounded both career highs, on a 36 / minute basis for 11 games – and shot three to 39 percent in almost five attempts per game.
He’s good as a starter – he’s shot 43.7.7 percent of the 27 games in that role – and he’s even better in the playoffs, where he’s shot 57 percent from the ground, 51.1 percent from the depths, and one of the raptors is Toronto’s offense in the second round against Boston.
Ibaka’s transformation into a raptor is so complete that many fans mourn his off-the-floor presence when he hears that he’s reuniting with fun guy poet Leonard – ‘What does this baby do’ – rush at another ring with the Los Angeles Clippers.
He must watch the How-Hungry Are You cooking shows where he served Leonard some memorable dishes, including beef penis pizza. No harsh feelings, apparently.
Is How bored you are, When he lit up the dark days of quarantine for many from his own lock-down life – from a much better apartment than most. Awake Klaasse – YouTube series, where fashion-forward Ibaka invites team members for a makeover, with occasional hilarious results and viral arguments About scarves.
As a raptor he became a full-fledged person and player.
“… he was more confident,” I noticed when I interviewed Kyle Lowry after attending a documentary produced by Ibaka about his improbable journey from the streets of Brazzaville, Congo to the Raptors Championship Parade. “You win the championship and things like that happen. You can go the other way. I think winning the championship has given his continent a big platform to promote his people, and he’s doing more now.”
In that case a trip through Los Angeles would be a good fit for Ibaka – he has a lot to offer on the floor and outside. If he can help lead the Clippers to their first title, his platform will grow.
But the Raptors problem is that he leaves. If not Ibacca or gasoline – or gasoline is back, how hard did the Spanish veteran work in 2019-20 – then who? So what?
Options are available and Raptors must offer a full range ($ 3.3 million a year or $ 39 million more than four).
Can the injured Sons center Aaron Bains, who recently developed a passing three-point shot, be enticed to a one-year mid-level (3.9 million) – that is to be hoped for. Former Raptor Bismack Biobo is probably cheap and defensively fills the hole defensively even though the big man can create one at the other end. Hassan can block whiteside shots and bounce back with the best of them, but can create drama at every stop. He is as big as he gets big bodies.
The best options for rasters may be smaller lineups, which are becoming more common as Pascal Siakum and / or OG Anunobi spend more minutes logging into the ideological hub in five-minute sets. There are some good signs during playoff.
Raptors – Uziri, Webster and Head Coach Nick Nurse – generally identify things.
This is the reassuring part. But the moment he lost Ibaka seems to be the opposite of okay, and that was only half of how he performed on the ground.