The Toronto Raptors are fresh off of an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Finals last offseason. It was a special season for “We the North,” but they are not close to being done. They are still a young team trying to develop and reach their full potential moving forward.
Led by the star-studded backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors can outscore many opponents in the Eastern Conference. There are very few teams who have a dual-threat guard combo. Lowry and DeRozan have formed excellent chemistry, and the Raptors have placed top-notch supporting cast fits around them.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Bismack Biyombo ended up signing with the Orlando Magic in free agency this offseason, as Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press originally reported.
He was a key bench piece for the Raptors last season and stepped up in a huge way when Jonas Valanciunas went down with an injury in the postseason. Now, the Raptors need to figure out how to fix the glaring hole when it comes to rebounding and defense that Biyombo’s departure leaves.
According to a report from Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, the Raptors are expected to have an interest in signing Serge Ibaka in 2017 NBA free agency. He would fix the issues that the Raptors currently have in a big way. Ibaka would also be an upgrade for Toronto at the power forward position and would make a threatening front-court duo with Valanciunas.
Ibaka is also currently a member of the Magic after being traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA Draft. He isn’t likely to re-sign a long-term deal in Orlando, although stranger things have happened.
Last season with the Thunder, Ibaka ended up averaging 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He shot 47.9 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 32.6 percent of his three-point attempts. Those numbers show exactly why the Raptors would be an excellent landing spot for Ibaka.
If the Raptors are able to sign Ibaka, he would slide into a similar role to the one that he had with the Thunder. Lowry and DeRozan would take the scoring roles of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, although the players cannot be compared at the end of the day. Ibaka would be that consistent No. 3 scorer that Toronto desperately needed to find last season.
At 26-years-old, Ibaka has yet to show what he can do as a focal point of an offense. If he has a big season offensively in Orlando during the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season, everything could change in free agency. Ibaka has a chance to drastically improve his demand around the league by proving he can be a legitimate top scorer.
Needless to say, the 2017 NBA free agency market is going to be entertaining. There are a lot of big names on the market and the cap is expected to take a leap once again.
Ibaka may not be one of the most hyped up free agents that will be available next offseason, but he is certainly one of the better fits for the Raptors. Toronto should be very aggressive in their pursuit of a star big man like Ibaka, even if they don’t end up getting him when everything is said and done.
Expect to hear a lot of rumors surrounding Ibaka throughout the upcoming season. Toronto will also be looking to make improvements and their name will be thrown around a lot next offseason. Ibaka to the Raptors makes a lot of sense and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see
Ibaka to the Raptors makes a lot of sense and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see a mutual interest.
Do you think the Toronto Raptors would be a good fit for Serge Ibaka in free agency? Would he make them serious championship contenders? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]