Although the Milwaukee Bucks are widely considered among the favorites to win this year’s NBA finals, a recent report suggested that the team could reload in the 2020 off-season by signing a proven free agent big man — erstwhile Toronto Raptors forward/center Serge Ibaka.
In a list of suggested free-agent acquisitions for all 30 NBA teams, Bleacher Report‘s Grant Hughes wrote that Ibaka could help the Bucks reach the “final stage of their evolution” as a center who could stretch the floor and also protect the rim on defense.
While the 30-year-old isn’t the same shot blocker he was in the early years of his career, he was described as a strong outside shooter and still capable enough to swat a few shots away.
Talking about the chances of the Bucks signing Ibaka in the coming offseason, Hughes noted that the team can only offer a mid-level exception, which is expected to be valued at around $9.8 million. He added that the veteran big man hasn’t earned less than that since the 2012-13 season — the final year of his rookie contract. However, the Bleacher Report writer projected that things could change if the Raptors don’t make it to this year’s finals and choose to shake up their roster.
“Suppose the Bucks smash Toronto in a playoff series and the Raps pivot hard toward a rebuild, letting their over-30 vets walk and committing resources to Fred VanVleet while keeping some powder dry for OG Anunoby’s extension. In that scenario, Ibaka could view Milwaukee as his best option.”
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Ibaka has remained productive in the 2019-20 campaign, as he has started 27 out of 50 games played while averaging 16 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.8 blocks per game and shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from three-point range. He is also making close to $23.3 million this season, or close to thrice as much as the aforementioned MLE the Bucks can offer once this year’s free-agency period begins.
Discussing Ibaka’s possible role with the Bucks if he decides to sign with the team ahead of the 2020-21 season, Bleacher Report predicted that he might be used as a part-time starter, similar to his current role with the Raptors. This, as noted, is something that the three-time All-Defensive selection might be comfortable with. But with 2018-19 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future in Milwaukee still unclear, the outlet wrote that Ibaka could sign a one-year contract and “reevaluate” his commitment to the team in the summer of 2021, depending on whether Antetokounmpo chooses to walk in free agency or not.