When the 2020-21 NBA season was officially scheduled to begin December 22, it figured to amount to a rather speedy free agency process.
While there weren’t the big-name players at the top of the class this offseason, there were some very good options in terms of role players. The Los Angeles Lakers, somewhat surprisingly, were aggressive in addressing the roster and seemingly got younger and more talented in the process.
Both prior to and after some of the new additions, they were connected to a slew of big men. Among them was Serge Ibaka, who of course went on to sign with the L.A. Clippers.
Prior to that, one general manager believed Ibaka was a perfect fit for the Lakers, per Sean Deveney of Heavy.com:
“From a personnel standpoint, he is exactly the kind of combo big guy that team (the Lakers) needs,” one NBA general manager told Heavy.com. “They have had interest in him before and they will again. When he is healthy he is an excellent spot starter at the 5 (center) and the 4 (power forward). He is as good a bench big guy as there is in the league. He was a really credible 3-point threat last year. If he is willing to accept what the Lakers can afford to give him, I know they would want him.”
Ibaka has been in the league for 11 years and has championship experience, winning a ring with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Even though the Lakers appear to have a good fit with Marc Gasol, there’s no denying Ibaka would have slotted in nicely as well.
He has proven to be comfortable in both a starting or bench role and can play both the center and power forward position. Ibaka also provides floor spacing as he has shot at least 36% from deep in three of the last four seasons, while still remaining a more than capable rim protector. Last season Ibaka averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 55 games.
The question and issue for the Lakers became if they would be able to afford Ibaka. He wound up receiving a modest two-year, $19 million contract from the Clippers. The Lakers’ financial flexibility had been eliminated by giving that same deal to Montrezl Harrell.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope raves about Gasol
Although Gasol isn’t quite the same force and presence he was with the Memphis Grizzlies, he brings an ability to space the floor in addition to being a savvy defender. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope touted Gasol as a ‘perfect fit’ on the Lakers roster.
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