Ibaka and Gasol: two different sensations in an important year

The two Spaniards will be, along with other colleagues like Fred VanVleet, free agents when the market opens, but they do not arrive the same.


The Raptors have been eliminated from the championship fight in the 2020 Playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics 4-3 after having won the previous series against the Nets 4-0. The still current champions will cease to be in October, when there is a new one. His year of defending the title began with the departure of his star, Kawhi Leonard, and ends with a postseason between cotton wool due to the pandemic and many unknowns to solve in the future of the only Canadian franchise that is right now in the NBA.

Toronto has been the second best team in the East in the regular phase of the 2019/20 season, but that has not earned them a greater favoritism than that of the Celtics or the Heat, who will fight to get into the NBA Finals. The Bucks, the best team in the regular season, have also been left out despite having MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Given that they have counted during the campaign with players who were still to recover a good point of form, such as Anunoby or Gasol, it remained to be seen what their performance would be when the important games arrived. In the first games of the Disney World bubble they looked very good, many fans coming to think that they could just as well make up for the absence of someone as important as Leonard and even another important veteran like Danny Green, but the Celtics yes they have climbed a notch since last year and have been far superior.

Reconstruction of the spine may be definitive. Those mentioned from the 2019 Ring have already left and previously DeMar DeRozan did, another of those who had been there for many years. Kyle Lowry was finishing this year but signed an extension after winning the championship to stay until 2021, so the eyes are focused first on Fred VanVleet, who is clearly going to receive very tempting offers after his good performance, and then on both interiors of Spanish nationality, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

Marc Gasol

The victim. Gasol, who accumulated an important tute since last year due to the transition from the season with the World Cup Finals in China to the season with the Raptors again, had to stop due to an injury before the stoppage due to the coronavirus. It even served him well to improve physically because his contribution had suffered ostensibly. During confinement, he lost kilos and gained muscle mass, staying in what is probably the best physical form point of his entire career. Nurse insisted that it would need some filming but the improvement has not come, but rather the other way around.

Marc, absolutely decisive in last year's Ring by drying up a young man of the quality and projection of Joel Embiid, has not been able in this tie neither with Daniel Theis, of a lower level, nor with Robert Williams, who has jumped in the rotation watching the damage they could do on that front. The +/- with him on the court, the ratio that has been used so much to praise him because he gives due account of what he adds together with the rest of his teammates, has betrayed him this time: -19, the worst of all the players, the day of elimination.

This season is the worst of his entire career, falling below ten points on average (7.5) and with only 6 on average in the Playoffs. Not even his defense, which once earned him the top five in the NBA when he was in Memphis, helps him this time. Almost indisputable holder for what he contributes at the level of placement, rhythm, positioning, coldness and ability for the direction being a pivot, he has been seen as a failure in the face of the rim and lacking in those intangibles that make him so valuable.

For Marc, there is another important determining factor when he goes to trade. Apart from the fact that he is already 35 years old, the contract. It comes from a super-lucrative one and from making, seen with perspective, a mistake last year: accepting the option of 25.5 million that he had to extend a year instead of, with the inertia of having won the championship and being one of the important , to have declined and to have looked there for the last long contract and for a lot of money that they probably would have offered him.

Now, with the inconvenience of coming from such a negative season and adding to it what will lower the level of contracts for new free agents due to the crisis that the NBA is going through due to the forced restrictions of COVID-19, it will be good if it gets a short contract for which you get at least half what you earned this past year.

An option? Renew down with the Raptors and wait for the Grizzlies when Jonas Valanciunas, the man they traded him for Toronto, comes out on the market.

Serge Ibaka

The beneficiary. He is no longer a specialist, now he does everything. This has helped him progress, also finding a position and someone who gives him the confidence to develop skills that, over the years, he has developed. His jump to the substitution has led him to have, although it may seem a contradiction, more exposure. He can be taken as reliable in the triple and in the middle distance, now he controls his impulses in defense much better and has gained in maturity despite the fact that the genius comes out of his pores at times.

In the regular phase, he started 27 of 55 games, the lowest volume since he was in the NBA, and as a substitute he has reached maximum contribution through the attack: 15.4 points on average and with 20.5 in the measurement of 36 and not 48 minutes, much tighter if we take into account that he plays 27 per game and there has only been one season in which he has had a lower average (the first, fresh from Manresa).

Serge Ibaka, who is officially 30 years old, is physically and fully empowered. It is a perfect complement to any franchise that wants to improve, either as a complement to a big one or for him to be the '5' of reference in normal or short game.

This year it has collected 23.2 million dollars. The drastic reduction that is going to take place will affect you a lot, you will not be able to collect everything that you have deserved per game, but the amount should fall much less in your case than in the others who occupy the same position.

An option? If you'd rather play a title contender for less money, ex-teammate Kawhi Leonard's Clippers and with Morris and Harrell also being free is a possibility.

Photos from as.com
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