What caused the friction?
Ibaka’s agent, Andy Miller, via Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
“There was an expectation of a larger role,” Ibaka’s agent, Andy Miller, told The Vertical. “It was overpromised and under-delivered. Everyone should be held to the same level of accountability across the board.”
I don’t know what Oklahoma City promised Ibaka. To a degree, it matters only how he interpreted the conversations. If he walked away with the wrong impression, that becomes the Thunder’s problem. Ditto if they actually promised him a bigger role than he received.
Ibaka’s numbers declined across the board for the second straight season. Just a couple years ago, he seemed to be blossoming as a third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But that never took off, and Ibaka’s primary contributions – defense, rebounding, spot-up shooting – also dipped. Maybe that’s for related reasons.
Ibaka will get a fresh start in Orlando, and the Magic can afford to give him more touches. He’ll have a year to prove himself before 2017 free agency.
The stakes are high.
If he puts up big numbers, he could get a massive contract with a huge salary cap. If he continues to decline, their will be major questions about his career arc.
I can see why Ibaka – regardless of what the Thunder promised, but especially if they actually guaranteed a larger role than he received – might want to play this pivotal season outside Oklahoma City.