Serge Ibaka

Contract Details: Rockets, Tatum, Ibaka, Craig, Patterson

Sterling Brown‘s new deal with the Rockets is a one-year, minimum-salary contract that is fully guaranteed, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That makes it one of the simpler, more straightforward deals Houston has finalized this week.

Newly-signed forwards Bruno Caboclo and Jae’Sean Tate, on the other hand, got multiyear contracts, but they both only have $50K guarantees for now, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Caboclo will have his 2020/21 salary fully guaranteed if he’s on the opening night roster, while Tate will get a $500K partial guarantee if he survives to the regular season opener, Marks writes.

While Caboclo has a two-year, minimum-salary deal, Tate’s three-year contract required the Rockets to dip into their mid-level exception and is worth more than the minimum in year one. As Smith details (via Twitter), Tate’s first-year salary will be $1,445,697 – typically the minimum for a player with one year of NBA experience – instead of the standard rookie minimum of $898,310.

Here are a few more new contract details:

  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum got a 15% trade kicker on his new five-year, maximum-salary extension with Boston, while big man Serge Ibaka received a 15% trade kicker on his two-year contract with the Clippers, according to Keith Smith (Twitter links).
  • Torrey Craig‘s one-year deal with the Bucks is a guaranteed contract worth the veteran’s minimum, tweets Smith. That doesn’t come as a surprise, as Milwaukee had no exception money left besides the minimum for Craig.
  • Rather than re-signing him to a minimum-salary contract, the Clippers re-signed Patrick Patterson using his Non-Bird rights, giving him 20% more than the minimum, according to Bobby Marks (Twitter link). That means a one-year, $3.08MM contract for the veteran forward.

Free Agency Rumors: Ibaka, Iwundu, Hernangomez, Bazemore

Big man Serge Ibaka was not bereft of contending suitors in free agency, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Scotto notes that the Raptors, the team with whom Ibaka spent most of the last four seasons, apparently offered a one-year, $12MM deal to Ibaka for an encore appearance in 2020/21. Toronto was believed to be unwilling to offer multiple years, which would have cut into the team’s projected 2021 cap space.

The Nets also wanted Ibaka, but could only afford a taxpayer mid-level exception, which would have started at $5.7MM this season. Ibaka ultimately inked a two-year, $19MM contract with the Clippers.

Here are more free agency rumors:

  • Though swingman Wesley Iwundu ultimately opted to sign a two-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Mavericks, the Hawks, Pelicans and Kings were also in the running for Iwundu’s services this offseason, Scotto reports in the same piece.
  • The Mavericks and Kings also considered adding reserve center Willy Hernangomez before he agreed to terms with the Pelicans on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, per Scotto. Hernangomez’s 2019/20 club, the Hornets, also apparently wanted to re-sign the 26-year-old big man.
  • Scotto reports that former Kings wing Kent Bazemore also found himself in high demand this offseason before agreeing to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Warriors. The LakersClippersBucksCeltics, Suns, Knicks, Nets, and Hornets were all interested in adding the three-and-D vet this offseason.

Serge Ibaka Signs With Clippers

NOVEMBER 25: The Clippers have officially signed Ibaka, the team announced in a press release.

NOVEMBER 21: The Clippers will sign free agent big man Serge Ibaka, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Ibaka will receive $19MM over two years on his new deal, signaling that Los Angeles will use its full mid-level exception to complete the signing. Charania adds (via Twitter) that the contract will feature a second-year player option.

The agreement represents a major coup for the Clippers, who lost center Montrezl Harrell to the rival Lakers early in free agency and saw power forward JaMychal Green leave for a deal in Denver. Ibaka, who can play either the four or five, will help replenish the team’s frontcourt depth, giving L.A. a big man who can knock down outside shots on offense and protect the rim on defense.

After starting his career in Oklahoma City and spending a brief stint in Orlando during the 2016/17 season, Ibaka has been in Toronto for the last three-and-half seasons, winning a title with the Raptors (with Kawhi Leonard) in 2019. This past season, he averaged 15.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.4 APG with an impressive .512/.385/.718 shooting line in 55 games (27.0 MPG).

By committing their full mid-level exception to Ibaka, the Clippers will hard-cap themselves for the 2020/21 league year and they don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room below the $138.93MM apron. However, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), the club can create a little extra breathing room by waiving non-guaranteed contracts for Joakim Noah and Justin Patton. Bringing back Noah on a new one-year, minimum-salary deal would cost the team about $1MM less than his current deal.

The Clippers remain in the market for a play-making guard and another big man, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. However, the team will likely be limited to minimum-salary offers or perhaps a portion of the bi-annual exception.

The Raptors, one of the many teams that made an effort to sign Ibaka, were believed to be averse to offering multiyear money, since it would compromise their projected cap room for the summer of 2021. They reportedly offered the big man a one-year, $12MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Pursuing Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol

The Clippers are in the running to sign Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol away from the Raptors, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Sources tell Stein that adding Gasol is considered more realistic because of the intense competition to land Ibaka, led by Toronto and the Nets.

The Lakers would also like to add another big man, Stein notes, but they’re financially limited after signing Montrezl Harrell and re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It appears the Lakers would be limited to a veteran’s minimum offer.

The Clippers need reinforcements in the front court after losing Harrell and JaMychal Green on the first night of free agency. L.A. kept midseason pick-up Marcus Morris, giving him $64MM over four seasons.

The Raptors should have an edge in the competition for Ibaka, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The Nets are limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.7MM, and although the Clippers have the full MLE of $9.3MM, Toronto is expected to make a larger offer, although only for one year to preserve cap room for next summer’s free agent market.

Ibaka, 31, averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 55 games last season. Gasol, 35, averaged 7.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG in 44 games.

Free Agent Rumors: Teague, Payton, Beasley, Davis, Ibaka, Thompson

The Knicks have interest in free agent Jeff Teague as a starting point guard option, Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets.  Teague, who made $19MM annually over the last three seasons, averaged 10.9 PPG and 5.2 APG in 59 combined games with the Timberwolves and Hawks last season.

If the Knicks don’t sign the 32-year-old Teague, they may shift back to one of their own free agents, Elfrid Payton. Front office executive Scott Perry remain a fan of Payton despite his perimeter shooting issues, Berman adds. Payton averaged 10.0 PPG and 7.2 APG in 45 games with New York last season.

We have more free agent news:

  • The Bucks expressed interest in combo guard Malik Beasley before he chose to re-sign with the Timberwolves, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Beasley agreed to a four-year, $60MM contract with Minnesota.
  • Anthony Davis will return to the Lakers but he might not put that in writing until December, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. Agent Rich Paul said there is no hurry for Davis to put his name to a contract and the signing could come just before or even during training camp.
  • After completing an agreement with Fred VanVleet, Raptors president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster will meet with their other prominent free agent, forward Serge Ibaka, on late Saturday afternoon or evening, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet tweets. As many as 10 teams have shown interest in signing Ibaka, who is coming off a career year and strong postseason run.
  • The Timberwolves have inquired about center Tristan Thompson, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Minnesota is seeking some depth in the middle behind starter Karl-Anthony Towns.

Ibaka Drawing Heavy Interest On Free Agent Market

Raptors big man Serge Ibaka might be the most popular free agent on this year’s market. As many as 10 teams are pursuing him, Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet tweets, and he’s receiving offers above the mid-level exception.

The Raptors are trying to hold onto Ibaka but contenders in both conferences are chasing him, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Toronto is likely to give Ibaka a sizable one-year offer, while most contenders are likely offering their MLEs, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. He could also join a younger team and get a bigger, multi-year deal.

The 31-year-old 7-footer picked a good time to enter the market, as he averaged a career-high 15.4 PPG and 8.2 RPG last season while knocking down 38.5% of his 3-point attempts. He also excelled in the postseason, averaging 14.8 PPG and 7.7 RPG while making 51.1% of his 3s.

Raptors, Others To Meet VanVleet Saturday

Free agent guard Fred VanVleet will meet with the Raptors and one or two other teams in Chicago on Saturday, Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet tweets.

VanVleet is one of the biggest names on the market and arguably the top combo guard available. Toronto is hopeful of retaining him and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said earlier on Friday he was likely to re-sign.

However, Grange’s report suggests they’ll have some competition for his services.

Grange offered these other tidbits on the Raptors:

  • They have not reached out to Cavaliers free agent center Tristan Thompson. Toronto had been expected to express interest in Thompson. That could be a sign the Raptors are confident of re-signing another one of their top free agents, Serge Ibaka.
  • There’s also a sense they’ll likely reach an extension agreement with OG Anunoby.

Nets Rumors: Durant, Harden, Harris, Ibaka

The Nets aren’t hiding their optimism about Kevin Durant with the new season just weeks away, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant has been out of action since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during the 2019 NBA Finals, but his recent workouts have players and management believing he can return to an MVP level.

“I don’t think anybody is more excited than Kevin himself to get back on the court. He’s mentioned numerous times he can’t wait to be back, in Barclays, wearing the Nets jersey and being out there,” general manager Sean Marks said in an interview Thursday on the YES Network . “As it pertains to how those guys look, what we’ve seen — they’ve been back in our gym now a couple days — the feedback from the performance team on how they’ve looked is they look terrific. It’s been remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year. We’re all champing at the bit and excited to see him out there.”

Players who participated in pickup games with Durant during the past month in Los Angeles also had glowing reports, with Jarrett Allen telling Basketball News, “I’ll just keep it short and simple: KD is back again.”

There’s more this morning from Brooklyn:

  • Marks isn’t addressing questions about James Harden, who reportedly asked the Rockets to trade him to the Nets to reunite with Durant, Lewis tweets. Marks is limited in what he can say about a potential deal because of tampering rules. “All you can do is prepare yourself to put the best possible roster forward,” Marks said. “…We just have to be flexible for everything that happens, and put the best roster forward.”
  • Re-signing Joe Harris will be the team’s top priority when free agency officially kicks off this afternoon, Lewis notes in a separate story. One of the league’s top three-point shooters, Harris is reportedly eager for the chance to play alongside Durant and Kyrie Irving“Those are guys I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year,” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”
  • Durant has been recruiting Serge Ibaka, his former teammate in Oklahoma City, but the Nets may not be able to afford him, Lewis adds. Brooklyn is limited to the taxpayer exception of $5.7MM, while several other teams interested in Ibaka can offer the full MLE of $9.3MM.

Atlantic Notes: Ibaka, Raptors, VanVleet, Celtics

Rockets superstar James Harden is not the only former Thunder teammate of Kevin Durant that the Nets have interest in adding, according to Mike Mazzeo of Forbes. Durant has also apparently tried to recruit power forward/center Serge Ibaka.

Though Ibaka earned $23.3MM in his final year with the Raptors, he may be interested in joining a contender for the $9.2M non-taxpayer mid-level exception, per Ian Begley of SNY. Begley notes that Ibaka may be anticipating offers in the territory of $12-15MM from teams with available cap space. Both figures may be out of the Nets’ range, as Brooklyn is expected to be limited to the $5.7MM taxpayer MLE in free agency.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Speaking of the Raptors, there is still no resolution as to where Toronto will play during the 2020/21 season, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets that the club will be holding a Los Angeles-based team mini-camp from November 20-25.
  • Raptors general manager Bobby Webster has stressed the team’s continued interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent guard Fred VanVleet, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. “He’s our top priority,” Webster said. “Our biggest priority for the offseason is bringing him back.” Toronto is also expected to have interest in bringing back Ibaka.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer mentioned on today’s installment of The Ringer NBA Show podcast that there was “chatter” about the Celtics offering the expiring contract of oft-injured forward Gordon Hayward and the team’s three first-round picks in the 2020 draft to the Pelicans in exchange for guard Jrue Holiday (hat tip to RealGM). Holiday was ultimately traded to the Bucks.

Rockets Rumors: Westbrook, Gordon, House, Rivers, Tucker, More

Within their full report on Russell Westbrook‘s desire to leave Houston, Kelly Iko, Sam Amick, and Shams Charania of The Athletic write that the former MVP had made it known “for quite some time” that he wanted to see major changes to the Rockets‘ culture. Specifically, Westbrook was seeking more “team-wide accountability, discipline and structure,” and hoped to establish a culture similar to the one he’d helped create in Oklahoma City.

Westbrook wasn’t the only Rockets player who experienced some frustrations during the 2019/20 season. According to The Athletic’s report, Eric Gordon hasn’t been pleased with how his responsibilities and importance have diminished in recent years and has wanted a more consistent role. The Rockets reportedly discussed playing Gordon less often with Westbrook and James Harden to optimize his skill set, but Mike D’Antoni resisted changes to his staggering strategy.

Danuel House also wasn’t thrilled with his role in Houston’s offense and how he was used, according to Iko, Amick, and Charania, who say that the young forward “verbally challenged” Westbrook, Harden, and D’Antoni. Additionally, Austin Rivers were unhappy with inconsistent playing time and his usage, per The Athletic. Following one game when D’Antoni was about to sub in Rivers before changing his mind and inserting DeMarre Carroll instead, Rivers went on an “expletive-laden tirade.”

Many of those frustrations can be traced back to a lack of accountability, sources tell The Athletic. According to Iko, Amick, and Charania, during one team meeting following a January loss, Westbrook went around the room and gave suggestions about what each player could do to help reverse the team’s slide — Harden wasn’t as receptive to to criticism as other Rockets players, per The Athletic’s sources.

Concerns about the Rockets’ culture date back past the 2019/20 season, as there’s a belief the team has catered too much to its stars. When Trevor Ariza left the club in 2018, he wanted to join an organization that would give him more respect, according to The Athletic. When Houston later expressed interest in bringing back Ariza, he sought an apology that he never received, sources tell Iko, Amick, and Charania. There have also been some complaints over the years from Rockets players about the team’s style of play and its unwillingness to make adjustments.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • P.J. Tucker has been “irate” all season long about his contract situation, believing he’s extremely underpaid relative to his role and production, according to Iko, Amick, and Charania. Tucker feels as though he deserves a raise and has been upset by the Rockets’ unwillingness to sign him to an extension, per The Athletic.
  • D’Antoni’s and Daryl Morey‘s departures after the 2019/20 season have played a large part in creating doubt in Harden’s and Westbrook’s minds about the Rockets’ ability to sustain long-term success, according to Iko, Amick, and Charania. While both stars have had input on decisions and support the hiring of new head coach Stephen Silas, they’re concerned about the possibility of an eventual rebuild, which they’d have no interest in.
  • Retaining veteran assistant John Lucas in a key role on Silas’ staff was meant to send a “clear message” to Westbrook and Harden that Houston remains committed to contending, according to The Athletic’s report.
  • Appearing on The Ringer’s Real Ones podcast earlier this week, Austin Rivers strongly suggested that he intends to turn down his 2020/21 player option, which is worth the veteran’s minimum. “That’s something I’m going through right now with my agent,” Rivers said. “I definitely want to probably be out there on the market and just see what else is out there. But I love Houston; Houston’s still one of my main options. That’s a team I loved playing for. But there’s other teams out there that you want to look at. You owe it to yourself to at least see the best situation for yourself.”
  • In Thursday’s episode of Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said Serge Ibaka will be high on the Rockets’ list of free agent targets this offseason, though he may be out of the club’s price range.