NBA free agency: Serge Ibaka lands with Clippers, who are becoming more versatile than they were with Montrezl Harrell


Before the opening of free agency 2020, Serge Ibaka tweeted a photo of himself in a plane with the caption: “On the way to…” It was a clear tease of one of the most coveted tall men in the market. On Saturday night, Ibaka landed, signing a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, for Shams Charania from The Athletic. The terms of the agreement, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski d’ESPN, are two years, $ 19 million, which equates to the Clippers’ mid-level exception.

Since the start of free agency, the Clippers have traded Landry Shamet, who was traded to Brooklyn, for Luke Kennard and Montrezl Harrell, who signed with the Lakers, for Ibaka.

For me, the Clippers won those two deals. Kennard is a sniper like Shamet and much better with the ball than you probably think after spending his first three NBA seasons in Pistons purgatory. Last year he averaged over 15 points per game. He’s a career 40% 3-point shooter.

Ibaka, meanwhile, makes the Clippers a more versatile team on both sides. He’s not the energy player that Harrell is, but he’s also not defensive responsibility, and he remains a dangerous shooter. In fact, given that he shot 39 percent from you last season, the Clippers can now spread the ground with five players on the perimeter without compromising rim protection.

I would expect Ibaka to come off the bench with Ivica Zubac retaining her starting role, but Ibaka will be the finisher in most situations. He can just do more stuff, and if the Clippers need it, they can go with two big lineups as well.

In a previous move, the Clippers re-signed Marcus Morris to a four-year, $ 64 million contract, which is woefully high even for a guy who provided them with a big advantage as a shooter, individual scorer and Competitive defenseman, but had to do that once they lost JaMychal Green to the Nuggets. Morris became a needed commodity at precisely the right time, and he got paid.

So here we are with the Clippers, who are arguably in the most urgent situation of any team in the league. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both free agents next summer. They just collapsed in the second round, taking a 3-1 lead against the Nuggets to get an early ticket to come home from the bubble. There is no future for the Clippers. Everything revolves around now. And Serge Ibaka helps them a lot.


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