The Golden State Warriors have faced constant speculation around their big man rotation this season, with the issues contributing to the reigning champions’ 23-24 record through 47 games to date.
The absence of James Wiseman and JaMychal Green has put a big workload on veterans Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, causing many fans to yearn for a more sustainable option over the second-half of the season. General manager Bob Myers will have a list of names he may deem as suitable targets, and another player may have been added over the weekend.
An old foe of the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks’ big man Serge Ibaka is the latest center to hit the market ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.
Warrior fans will be incredibly familiar with Serge Ibaka given his presence on a number of playoff opponents — he was a teammate of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, while also being a part of Toronto’s championship-winning squad that defeated Golden State in the 2019 Finals.
According to The Athletics’ Shams Charania, Ibaka’s time with his latest team, the Milwaukee Bucks, has come to an end.
“The Milwaukee Bucks and center-forward Serge Ibaka have mutually agreed to find the 14-year NBA veteran a new home via trade as he remains away from the team, league sources told The Athletic on Friday”
Ibaka has averaged 11.6 minutes in just 16 games with Milwaukee this season, posting 4.1 points and 2.8 rebounds on 55.6% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range. This comes after playing 54 games with the Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers last season, producing better numbers at 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds on 56.3% from the floor and 37.4% from three.
The 33-year-old could have merit for the Warriors as a third big, but the franchise won’t want to give up anything of value for a declining big who may not even crack the playoff rotation. Golden State could offer some combination of JaMychal Green, Ryan Rollins, and/or a second-round pick, though you’d have to ask why Milwaukee would accept that deal.
It will be interesting to see the interest on Ibaka around the league, and what will happen if nothing is offered that the Bucks deem worthy of a trade. A buyout situation would be strange for a championship contender, but perhaps Milwaukee do right by the player if he’s going to be away from the team anyway. You could imagine the Warriors would be much more interested if that were the case and Ibaka could be signed as a free agent.
It’s unlikely that this 2023 version of Ibaka is the answer to Golden State’s prayers, but as a shot-blocking big man who can step out and shoot from the perimeter, he at least fits the mould of what the Warriors could be after.