After playing four seasons with the Toronto Raptors, veteran center/power forward Serge Ibaka will need to make another tough decision regarding his NBA future in the 2020 offseason. The 30-year-old Spanish big man is currently playing the final year of his contract with the team and set to become an unrestricted free agent this fall. Though the Raptors remain one of the top favorites to sign him, Ibaka is still expected to receive strong interest from other title contenders who want to boost their frontcourt this fall.
Among the teams who could try to steal the veteran center from Toronto is the Miami Heat. If Meyers Leonard leaves Miami, Martin Fenn of Bleacher Report predicted the Heat will go after Ibaka in the 2020 offseason.
“There is a chance Pat Riley and the Miami Heat show some interest. Ibaka would be a terrific fit in South Beach as a stretch big who can draw defenders away from the paint and allow Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to exploit matchups. Not to mention, Meyers Leonard will be a free agent after this year. It is likely to come down to money. If Ibaka demands upward of $25 million per year, there is a good chance the Heat opt for a cheaper big and preserve cap space for next summer, when Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent.”
Ibaka may no longer be the same shot-blocker he was during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he is still a force to reckon with under the basket. Aside from being a quality rim protector, he would give the Heat a very reliable scoring option and a monster rebounder. This season, he is averaging 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Ibaka won’t have a hard time fitting alongside Bam Adebayo in the Heat’s frontcourt since he is flexible enough to play both the center and power forward positions. Also, sharing the court with another floor-spacer like Ibaka would be very beneficial for Jimmy Butler. Having more space to execute their offense, it would be easier for Butler to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when he is trapped by the opposing team’s defense.
With their goal to fully dominate the Eastern Conference and win the NBA championship title next season, targeting Ibaka this fall indeed makes a lot of sense for the Heat. However, with the team planning to preserve salary cap space to chase Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021, it remains a huge question mark if the Heat could come up with an offer that they would convince him to leave the Raptors.