The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to quite a few soon-to-be free agents. The team could lose a number of players this offseason but could end up upgrading a couple of positions. One player to keep an eye on is recent Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka.
Sean Deveney of Heavy recently reported that there is a belief that the Lakers would like to sign the elite defender. While nothing has been confirmed, there’s a really good chance that the interest is mutual. Fox Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe posted a Photoshopped picture of Ibaka in a Lakers jersey. That wouldn’t really mean much but one of Ibaka’s closest friends, who goes by Ray Sugar on social media, reposted the image.
If anybody has insight on Ibaka’s mindset, it’s probably Sugar. Obviously, this doesn’t confirm anything but it’s certainly notable and could mean that Ibaka is at least thinking about making the move.
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Ibaka Would Be a Good Replacement for Dwight Howard
Due to the unprecedented nature of his upcoming season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Lakers tried to bring back most of the championship team for at least one more year. However, a couple of players could be worth more money to other teams after being part of a championship run.
Dwight Howard is one of the most dominant players of the last 20 years but his stock took a tumble after a few lackluster seasons. He was able to reinvent himself with the Lakers and became one of their top players off the bench and even earned a starting spot towards the end of the season. Howard is a guy who very likely helped his chances of getting a decent contract this offseason.
A lot of teams are going to want a solid big man after watching the Lakers dominate the paint en route to a championship. Should Howard land a gig elsewhere, Ibaka would be a solid replacement. He’s essentially a young version of what Howard is now. He’s still a strong defender and can score at an efficient rate. He’s shot over 50% from the field during his career. Putting Ibaka next to Anthony Davis in the Lakers’ frontcourt gives them a really strong defensive duo. It’s also worth mentioning that Frank Vogel briefly coached Ibaka in Orlando when he was the head coach there.
Ibaka Garnering Interest From Other Teams
If the Lakers want Ibaka, there’s going to be competition. Mike Mazzeo of Forbes recently reported that Kevin Durant is trying to recruit Ibaka to the Brooklyn Nets. The two men played together for years in Oklahoma City. He could convince Ibaka that coming to New York is favorable to Los Angeles. The two men go way back so there is an advantage there. The Lakers do have Danny Green, who recently played with Ibaka in Toronto. Perhaps the team has him do a bit of recruiting.
The Houston Rockets are another team to watch. They couldn’t compete with the Lakers’ size during last season’s playoffs. Houston could really use a big rim protector for when they have to go against Davis. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, they are expected to have an interest in Ibaka.
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