Serge Ibaka Reportedly Unhappy With Role in OKC Prior to Trade

by June 24, 2016
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The OKC Thunder shipped center Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic last night, a stunning move with Kevin Durant’s free agency just on the horizon.

It’s no secret that the big fella was less than thrilled with his reduced offensive role, and the Thunder front-office reportedly feared he would bolt next summer as a free agent himself.

Ibaka, 26, finishes his Thunder career with 1,300 blocked shots.

Per CBS:

For a team that won 55 games and finished one win shy of the NBA Finals, it was a stunningly significant shakeup. Ibaka, 26, had been a key component of the Thunder’s core for seven years alongside Durant and Russell Westbrook.

 

But Ibaka had grown unhappy with his role, a person familiar with the situation said, and was considered likely to leave as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. Though Ibaka had not requested a trade, it was reasonable to expect that such a request could be on the horizon. […] Facing a similar situation with James Harden in 2012, Oklahoma City didn’t wait to be backed into a corner with no leverage. The Thunder traded Harden to the Houston Rockets, who promptly signed him to a five-year, $80 million extension. Since then, the Rockets have made one Western Conference finals to the Thunder’s two.

 

Ibaka has one season and $12.3 million left on his deal, and with the salary cap soaring to at least $109 million in 2017, he would’ve been in peak demand. Rather than wait that situation out and try to repair it — as they did with Reggie Jackson before finally sending him to the Detroit Pistons in 2015 — the Thunder tried once again to get ahead of the problem.