The Brooklyn Nets are one of the teams expected to be aggressive in upgrading their roster this offseason. Though they are yet to see their team at its full strength, the Nets believe that they need to surround Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with a better supporting cast to have a better chance of dominating the Eastern Conference and winning the NBA championship next season. They have already been linked to several veterans who are set to be available on the free agency market this fall, including Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors.
Though there are still a few days left before free agency officially starts in 2020, Mike Mazzeo of Forbes claimed that Durant has already started recruiting Ibaka to the Nets.
“Kevin Durant has been recruiting close friend Serge Ibaka to join the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent, according to league sources. Durant and Ibaka forged a strong relationship while playing together in Oklahoma City. But the veteran Ibaka, who made $23.3 million last season, would have to take a significant discount to join the Nets.”
Durant and Ibaka both started their NBA careers with the Oklahoma City Thunder for which they played together for seven consecutive years before heading in different directions in the summer of 2016. Though they were no longer teammates, they remained in contact and consider each other brothers.
Ibaka may not have shown an indication that he’s no longer happy in Toronto, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to leave the Raptors to reunite with Durant in Brooklyn. Compared to the Raptors, signing with the Nets would give him a better chance of winning his second championship ring next year. However, to make his reunion with Durant possible, he would have to be willing to sign the $5.7 million taxpayers’ mid-level exception with the Nets.
If they can convince him to give them a huge discount, Ibaka would undeniably be a great addition to the Nets, giving them a veteran big man with championship experience. He could help them in terms of scoring, rebounding, floor spacing, and protecting the rim. Last season, he averaged 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.
Ibaka could immediately serve as their starting center next season. There won’t also be a problem if head coach Steve Nash decides to go big and fit DeAndre Jordan or Jarrett Allen in the starting lineup since he is capable of efficiently playing at the power forward position.
The Nets aren’t the only contenders that could try to lure Ibaka away from the Raptors this offseason. Other potential suitors of the Spanish center include the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, and the Dallas Mavericks.