NBA Rumors: Serge Ibaka Back To Oklahoma City

The Los Angeles Clippers have been decimated by injuries this season, maybe more than any other team in the NBA.  Kawhi Leonard hasn't played all season and isn't expected to after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL last summer, 33rd overall pick Jason Preston also underwent surgery after injuring his foot just before training camp and is yet to play this season, and Paul George has been available for less than half of the team's games with a lingering elbow injury.  

The Clippers remarkably still hold a playoff position, but the team is still expected to be selling rather than buying ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline just 9 days away and it was recently reported that the Clippers have made three veteran players available for trade: Eric Bledsoe, Serge Ibaka and Marcus Morris.  Most teams in their position would be looking to add veterans or maybe even make a big trade but the Clippers front office don't believe this team has championship aspirations without Kawhi in the lineup, and they are deep into the luxury tax.  According to Spotrac's estimations, the Clippers are set to pay nearly $94 million in extra taxes alone, a hefty price for any team - but a near ludicrous one for a team that might not even make the playoffs.

Sports Illustrated noted that by moving Ibaka, the Clippers save much more than just the $9.7 million that is owed to him this season:

Sending out his $9.7 million salary alone would save the Clippers over $40 million in tax penalties. As noted by's Bobby Marks, the Clippers still have $3.3 million available to send out in a trade this season, and only $3.1 million of Ibaka's salary would remain on his contract this year before he becomes a free agent.

As far as a trade partner goes, both CBS Sports and Bleacher Report have the Congolese big man headed back to Oklahoma City for a reunion with the team he was drafted by and spent seven seasons with from 2009 to 2017.  According to Sam Quinn, the reunion isn't expected to last long, as the Thunder will likely buy out Ibaka if they acquire the 2x league-leader in blocks in a deal in which they receive extra picks or players as compensation for taking on his contract.

The Clippers are expected to be very active ahead of the deadline, we'll keep you posted on the latest involving L.A. and Serge Ibaka.

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