Serge Ibaka says he wanted to stay with the Toronto Raptors
Toronto is pretty broken-hearted about the recent departure of free agents Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka from the Raptors — especially the latter, which came as a dreaded shock.
But it seems based on his latest comments on the topic that Ibaka wasn't exactly planning on betraying the 6ix and disappointing Raps fans everywhere.
"It was not an easy decision to make because I love Toronto. The last three-and-a-half years were great," he said in a press conference on Thursday.
“In the beginning of free agency I did not even think about leaving Toronto ... “ .. pic.twitter.com/g2L8oCb2R1— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) December 3, 2020
He continued on to confirm rumours that he had all intentions of staying on the team, saying "Yes it's true, I wanted to stay on the Raptors. But in the last minute, things change, people see things differently."
He called his time with the team "the best basketball" of his career, and even waxed sentimental about how much he enjoyed playing alongside teammates like Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.
But, it seems that he was a bit let down by the fact that team officials didn't make it apparent that keeping him was a top.priority.
"I thought the Raptors were going to come and really show me and convince me that they wanted to stay... I was just surprised. That's why I made the decision to try and think about different options," he revealed to reporters today.
It’s clear Ibaka felt Raptors would make a more significant push to keep him.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) December 3, 2020
The NBA veteran — known not just for his moves on the court and his fun persona, but also for his impeccable fashion sense — signed a two-year, $19-million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers at the end of November.
Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse called recently called the time spent with Ibaka and Gasol both irreplaceable, reiterating that they were "great players," "a joy to coach," and that they will be sorely missed.
Ibaka will join our likewise missed and beloved Kawhi Leonard on the west coast when the 2020-2021 season starts on Dec. 22.
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