Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Serge Ibaka’s agent: Thunder promised bigger role and didn’t deliver

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 05: Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during a break in the action against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Thunder defeated the Nuggets 124-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The Thunder and Serge Ibaka clearly soured on each other, Oklahoma City trading Ibaka to the Magic on draft night.

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.