Serge Ibaka is unique in that he’s a 27-year-old big man with playoff experience who can shoot threes, block shots (although not as frequently as he used to), rebound (same). He’s also unique in that the market for him during the 2017 free agency period doesn’t seem to be especially robust. It’s odd, because Ibaka brings a collection of skills that most teams would find pretty valuable, but there just doesn’t look like there’s all that much interest in him.
Why is that? According to an appearance that ESPN’s Zach Lowe did on Bleacher Report’s “The Full 48” podcast, teams are concerned about Ibaka’s listed age.
“Look, as uncomfortable as it is to say that, the league, not the league office, teams believe that [Ibaka] is older than his listed age,” Lowe said, according to Larry Brown Sports. “So whether he is or not, or what are the ethical issues of saying that, I don’t know. But it affects the free agency market for him.”
This, understandably, did not sit well with Ibaka, who responded with a statement in a tweet where he decried these rumors.
This is a damning allegation that Lowe brought to light. There’s no proof that it’s true, plus it’s the sort of thing that has been speculated upon ever since he came into the league, so it’s understandable that Ibaka would be really upset.
Some skeptics point to the fact that Ibaka hasn’t fully developed into the two-way force some anticipated, although that does kind of ignore that his role has changed a lot over the last few years — he was viewed as a defensive menace early on in his career, but as he’s become a better three-point shooter, his game has changed. Whatever team signs him in free agency will probably bank on his ability to continue to grow and be an impact player in the near future. After all, he is only 27.