Serge Ibaka Now In Tourist Season

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TREVISO, Italy – He has mostly spent the offseason as a tourist, spending the majority of the last three weeks in Europe while trying to forget whatever that was that passed for the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs. Serge Ibaka has traveled a lot of roads, just not yet the road back.

Escaping reality? Ibaka has made it a point not even to watch the rest of the postseason on TV.

“It’s too difficult for me,” he said.

One year later, after starting for the Thunder in the Finals against Miami, one Russell Westbrook knee injury later, after the health concern that altered an entire conference, Ibaka was in northern Italy on Sunday for an appearance at the adidas Eurocamp, not playing the Heat in Game 2 in a championship-series rematch. Memphis, not Oklahoma City, went to the next round and San Antonio, not Oklahoma City, won the Western Conference crown, and so Ibaka went away. Left the country, the continent and, in the real trip, left the sport.

“I haven’t really stayed connected with basketball,” he said.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a jump shot as he coaches players during adidas EUROCAMP.

Ibaka knows his approach cannot last forever and that he eventually has to return to the reality that, yes, the Thunder, a team that rightly considered itself a serious championship threat, a team that felt the experience of getting to the 2012 Finals had steeled it for a return to June, actually did lose in the second round.

Only now, Ibaka explained during a break in the camp, is he finally ready to get back to basketball.

“It changes the guys a lot because it makes us more hungry,” he said. “Everybody will be spending the summer working to come back strong for next season. It’s something we learn from our mistake and then try to get better. I can give you the example of myself. I can’t wait to get back and start working out. I’m going to be ready to help the team next year to another level.

“We learned. Of course. We learned something.”

Learned something?

“We just learned to be ready to play with any circumstance that can come,” Ibaka said. “We need to be ready. I don’t want to get an excuse about we lost some guys on our team. For next year, I think we’ll be ready. It will be really fun to see us play.”

For real head-spinning, though, all Ibaka had to do was look across the room. Kenneth Faried was also in attendance to speak with players, many of whom are hoping to get picked in the June 27 draft, the same Kenneth Faried who since the regular season ended in Denver with such high hopes for the future lost in the playoffs in the first round, lost general manager Masai Ujiri to the Raptors and then lost coach George Karl.

“I really have no comment for that,” Faried said. “It’s basketball. Stuff happens. It’s a business.”

Asked if he has talked to Karl, a coach he credits for helping in his early NBA development, Faried said, “No, I haven’t talked to anybody. I’m just kind of keeping to myself. I’ll just wait until I get back to Denver to hear everything.” He added he is not concerned about the sudden turnover around the Nuggets.

31 Comments

  1. justsayin says:

    Harden might have stayed if they had given him the respect to make him a starter.
    Most teams don’t leave one of their big 3 at the kids table, and I could see him resenting that a little bit over time.

    Still plenty of upside left in Ibaka though. Now if we could talk Rodman into giving him a rebounding minicamp!

  2. Tim says:

    Ibaka was overated and did not show up when needed the most. Against Memphiz, Ibaka and Perkin were simply jokes…Thabeet probably a better choice than Perkin. Its funny when Brook stands behind Ibaka’s shooting, calling him the best OKC mid-range shooter!!! An elite team with just one guy carry the whole team is not an elite team period!

    • NOwestbrookNOring says:

      I agree Perk and Ibaka were horrible against grizz. It was hard to watch being a huge OKC fan. Fact: If westbrook would not have gotten taking out by Beverly we would be playing the heat rightnow. I honestly don’t think we would have won though. Durrant showed me that he is not ready to beat LeBron so it would have been a repeat of last year. It pains me to admit this but the spurs have the best chance at beating the heat. And I hope they do.

  3. Ashok says:

    Thunder will be good team if they TRADE Perkins…

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Well, Thunder is already a great team and Championship contender. They’ll win it all next season.

      However, it may be a good idea to free up space, if possible, by releasing Perkins, outright.

      This way they could afford more in the long run and lure in the likes of Chris Paul, Al Jefferson, Andre Igoudala, or Josh Smith.

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        I get the feeling this could be the last chance for Heat and Spurs to win it all. I’d like to see the Heat/Spurs series go to 7 games; let them beat up on each other and wear each other out as much as possible. Thus, the rejuvenated young Thunder will take over.

      • NOwestbrookNOring says:

        Chris Paul? No thanks….that would be getting rid of the best PG in the league WESTBROOK! Do you not watch the thunder play the clippers? Westbrook dominates him in every way possible. How can you not respect Westbrook now that you have seen how horrible we are without him? I say no westbrook no ring…..It might be no westbrook no playoffs.

  4. NBA critic says:

    Ibaka plays power forward but his game is very limited, At 6’10, blocking shots, shooting jumpers but no low post game. Just watch David West, Tim, Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Z-Bo, his very far on their level of game. He can’t create game yet, I guess he should be traded to LA if they are giving away Pau. Pau game will fit the Thunders system, coz Perkins is not a great inside presence also. In the Thunder, Pau can play the post where he is at his best.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      No way. Serge Ibaka will keep improving. He does have some post-up game. Not as good as those players you mentioned, but he can post-up now and then.

      However, adding Pau Gasol is a joke. Gasol is probably past his prime.

      If the Thunder can afford that much, they need to allocate investments in Chris Paul, Al Jefferson, and Andre Igoudala … or just try to sign as many as they can.

  5. KDtrey5 says:

    You sound stupid if keeping ibaka is a mistake if he left that is a big defensive chunk he improves his game every year we nee to pick up oj mayo in the free agency this year i like kmart but he is not consitent.

  6. MJfromOKC says:

    He needs to be working on his post game. I dont want a PF/C that goes to a jump shot every time instead of posting up, especially when hes 6’10 and built like he is.

    However Ibaka will be fine, people forget how young he is (23).

  7. Kimmy says:

    The Thunder needs a better center and Westbrook needs to get better. Needs to be an awesome threesome, not twosome. Look at the Heat! Go Thunder, miss you guys.

  8. euro says:

    okc should give westbrook who ruins game not harden;

  9. J says:

    why wont my comment work

  10. TheRock says:

    Ibaka is a tourist. Tour around nba team n see which team suitable for him.

  11. Gillsy says:

    I know the west is full of big centres that’s why they wanted Perkins from the Celtics in the first place cause he did well in the finals against some good centres and clogged the middle. At the end of the day the Thunder was never going to keep Harden cause he wanted to be the main man if not he would have signed the reasonable offer the Thunder tabled. While the deal they did for Ibaka was a steel by comparison.

  12. Gillsy says:

    I don’t think getting rid of Harden was the solution. Perkins contract was the problem they should have offloaded it and kept both and moved Ibaka to the 5 Durant to 4 and played Harden at the 3. the would be in the finals again.

    • OKC says:

      Ibaka at 5 would be a huge mistake, look how Ibaka did covering Gasol.

      And who would take Perkins in a trade after he had already shown he wasn’t worth the money he is owed? Additionally, how would we afford a new center after dumping all our money into a max contract for Harden. Basically we would have been starting Hasheem @_@.

    • edad says:

      gillsy, are you really a basketball fan? my man, the west is always fully loaded with big centers. if you will put ibaka with the center spot surely he will just be post up. mind you. the blocks he is getting only came because he was the weak side help or in layman’s term perkins is the main front wall, while ibaka is the defender from the back. and harden is primed for a leadership role not just a third option for the team. for me it was a sacrifice to let him go but still a better move than to trade ibaka. if thabeet will improve then can we only trade perkins away for a solid defensive sg.

  13. Nbafan says:

    It just didn’t go OKC’s way this year with the Westbrook injury. Too abrupt and sudden for the team to adjust. Westbrook is one of the best point guards and the team kind of fell apart when he went down.

  14. HELL NAO says:

    IBAKA = BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NEXT 3 YRS IN A ROW

    • Erlo says:

      Bahahahaha. I like your joke.

      • Peso says:

        Ibaka still got a lot of improvement to do in the rebound department. No way should someone with the length, strength and hops he got to get less than 10 rebounds a game and that’s being nice (12 is more like it) Plus I’ve never seen him lockdown a player he was guarding for a full game like Marc Gasol, D12, or Kendrick Perkins on the Celtics can do. KP on OKC doesn’t effect the game or even play in important situations like he did playing with KG and Tony Allen

        Tony Allen should win one soon, great defender…Avery Bradley, Iman Shumpert, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard are the next wave of really good to eventually great defenders in the NBA

        did I miss anyone?

  15. D WADE says:

    Ibaka should really practice and train with KD since R-West is injured and they also need to work because if they don’t Thunder won’t make the playoffs.

  16. eo says:

    just thinking how big of a mistake the thunder made letting go maybe the best shooting guard in the league right now to keep ibaka, BIG BIG mistake

    • how is keeping Ibaka a mistake? doesn’t make sense…hes one of the best defensive players on the game…he’s improving his mid range and 3s…if theres somebody the thunder should trade, its westbrook

      • gg says:

        uh, losing westbrook cost them the playoffs, why in the world would they want to trade westbrook? If anything, now they will value westbrook more than ever. It’s true he’s a hothead with often erratic behaviour, but his impact on the court is big and they need him

      • Peso says:

        yes…Ibaka mid range game and corner 3′s is getting good and he’s a elite shot blocker but that doesn’t mean he’s great defensively. If that is the case then Reggie Evans should have won DPOY award because he’s a elite rebounder lmfao

        to tell you the truth… Ibaka isn’t a great rebounder or great defensively and I have no problem with dude so this isn’t HATE, just facts

        Harden is damn near on superstar status, I haven’t really watched OKC as much since Harden got traded

      • NOwestbrookNOring says:

        HA! Trade westbrook? What a joke….yeah lets trade the best PG in the league that will help. And to “eo” I can’t believe you are calling Harden the best shooting guard in the league! Have you lost your mind? He is not that good dude…he is a great 6th man not an allstar. If OKC would not have lost Westbrook they would have got swept outta the playoffs. As far as trades its hard to say but I know we need to say goodbye to Martin for sure. Ask Perk to come off the bench and take a pay cut. We need a big that can REBOUND DEFEND AND PLAY SOME OFFENSE nothing fancy just a solid big man. And coach needs to step it up as well. I would say new coach but all the good coaches are taking and probably would never come to OKC. I’d love to see POP come to OKC….that’s instant championship.

    • jer says:

      you clearly know nothin about ball and only watch nba games if you think ibaka isnt a great defender.. harden looks like hes more effective because houston has nobody else but parsons really to score..but defense wins leads to o, how many easy buckets do kd and russ get from their frontcourt? its rediculous besides when you already have two of the best scorers and got another 20+ scorer in kmart. just watch, teams like indy, denver, philly, maybe even the raps will have to make moves like this soon enough

      • Peso says:

        I know hoop…ibaka is not a great defender just a great shot blocker. A lot of improvement defensively is needed