Serge Ibaka is committed to the Orlando Magic.
Really committed, per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
The biggest acquisition of the Orlando Magic’s 2016 offseason indicated on Monday that he has no plans to go elsewhere when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
“I’m looking to stay here to play forever — for [as] many, many years as possible,” Serge Ibaka said during the Magic’s media day.
This is something the Magic obviously want to hear. They flipped Victor Oladipo, lottery pick Domantas Sabonis and Ersan Ilyasova to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Ibaka, who will become an unrestricted free agent in 2017. They don’t pay that price if they’re not planning on re-signing him long term at season’s end. So if Ibaka wants to stay, he can stay.
Granted, it’s not that simple.
The Magic have a frontcourt logjam after signing Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green. They still have Nikola Vucevic on the roster, and the three-man combination of him, Ibaka and Biyombo doesn’t feel like a long-term fit—especially when this forces Aaron Gordon to play lots of small forward.
Unless the Magic are really successful in the early going of this season, it stands to reason that they’ll break up this pileup at some point. Vucevic seems to be the odd man out, even though he’s expected to start. The Magic didn’t make Biyombo one of their two highest paid players for no reason, and Ibaka, again, cost quite a bit.
If the Magic don’t do something to clear this up, they risk losing Ibaka in free agency. They can offer him more years and money than any other team, but he just spent the first part of his career as the third fiddle in Oklahoma City. He may have no desire to be part of a three-pronged frontcourt monster that inherently limits his minutes and touches, money be damned.
That’s a problem for later, though. For now, Orlando should just be happy its excess of frontcourt talent hasn’t soured Ibaka’s optimism or onset loyalty in any way.