Keep An Eye On Thunder For Serge Ibaka Trade From Clippers

Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The LA Clippers came into the 2021-22 season with slightly adjusted expectations. When they have Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, they are legitimate contenders for the NBA Finals. However, without him, the team was going to have to battle things out for a playoff spot.

But, even those expectations are now going to be adjusted. It is one thing playing without Leonard when you have Paul George to do the heavy lifting. But, when you also lose George, things get that much more complicated.

George could miss the remainder of the season because of a torn UCL in his right elbow. It was an injury that sidelined him for a few games, he returned to place twice, but has now missed 10 games and counting again.

Without George in the lineup, the Clippers are bound to take a tumble down the standings. As a result, they could look to become sellers ahead of the trade deadline and begin reshaping their roster for the 2022-23 season when Leonard and George are healthy.

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One player to keep an eye on in the trade market is Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is playing out a $9.7 million expiring deal. If the Clippers were able to trade him, they would be saving tens of millions of dollars.

The Clippers moving Serge Ibaka appears to be the most likely trade deadline maneuver for Los Angeles. Shedding Ibaka’s $9.7 million salary alone would save the Clippers over $40 million in tax penalties.

Saving that kind of money will assuredly motivate the LA Clippers to make a move and find a taker for Serge Ibaka. With the amount of second-round picks that the Clippers own, they could find a taker rather easily if they attach some draft pick compensation to him.

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One team that could make a deal for Ibaka is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ibaka spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Thunder, and they could be a fit for him now.

As noted by’s Bobby Marks, the Clippers still have $3.3 million available to send out in a trade this season, and only $3.1 million of Ibaka’s salary would remain on his contract this year before he becomes a free agent. Oklahoma City is a trade partner to monitor, league sources said.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have always shown a willingness to take on a player from a team looking to shed salary. As long as there is a draft pick available to acquire, Sam Presti will have some level of interest in making a deal.