Instant reactions to Milwaukee Bucks acquiring Serge Ibaka in 4-team deal

Feb 6, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Well, well, well… the Milwaukee Bucks made a trade to acquire a reserve big man and it certainly wasn’t an easy trade to complete!

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that as part of a four-team, seven-player deal, the Bucks came away with Serge Ibaka from the Los Angeles Clippers as well as two future second round picks (and some cash!). In exchange, the Bucks sent Donte DiVincenzo to the Sacramento Kings as well as Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ibaka was someone that had been mentioned as a possible option for the Bucks to acquire in order to shore up their frontcourt and would you look at that, it happened!

Instant reactions to the Milwaukee Bucks acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Los Angeles Clippers

Everyone and their mother was clamoring for another big man that wasn’t DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe. No offense to those guys, but they wouldn’t be playing in the playoffs. Ibaka likely won’t see a ton of playoff action, but he’s a nice stopgap as they await Brook Lopez’s return.

Speaking of Lopez’s return from back surgery, Ibaka had back surgery last year and hasn’t been the same this season!

In 35 games for the Clippers, the 32-year-old is averaging 6.6 points on 56.7 percent true shooting, 4.3 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in around 15 minutes per game. He is shooting 38.7 percent from 3 on 4.1 attempts per 36 minutes, which is right in line for his volume from the past couple of seasons per 36 minutes.

Still, Ibaka isn’t the player he was with the Thunder or the Raptors when the Bucks saw him in the Eastern Conference Finals. He’s not a starting-caliber big man by any means, but that’s not what the Bucks are going to ask of him.

We’ve seen that the Bucks are better when they can have Bobby Portis alongside an actual big man (like Cousins, Monroe, or Lopez) and the fit with Portis and Ibaka seems pretty clean. He’s not the rim protector that we remember and he’s lost some of his mobility (hence why he was only playing around 15 minutes a night for the Clippers), but in a small bench role, he should fit in with Portis and, more importantly, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The key is his ability to still space the floor and knock down open 3s. He couldn’t do that very well last season (34 percent), but he’s found his stroke this season and will only get more open looks playing with Antetokounmpo.

Defensively… well, we’ll see. Again, he’s not as mobile but he’ll be asked to do less than what we saw when he was with the Raptors. It will certainly be interesting to see what type of coverage they use when he’s on the floor.

I would assume he’d be in more of a drop similar to Lopez and asked purely to defend the rim as opposed to letting him switch or hedge aggressively as Portis does. The Bucks have had problems defending the basket when Antetokounmpo isn’t on the floor, so this will help in that regard. His block rate (4.1 percent) is the same as it has been over the last six seasons.

When Lopez is back, I wouldn’t expect Ibaka to factor in too much as a playoff rotation player but it also depends on the matchup. If they need to play bigger, then Ibaka can play but he’s a fine insurance policy in the event that Lopez either doesn’t return (unlikely) or isn’t ready to play high-level minutes right away (likely).

I thought the Bucks would be able to get more than Ibaka and a couple of picks for DiVincenzo, especially when you consider they nearly got Bogdan Bogdanovic for him a couple of offseasons ago, but Ibaka is still a useful big man that can provide rim protection and spacing in a limited role.

They do have a few open roster spots now thanks to this move, so you can expect more action from the defending champs in the coming days, whether it be a trade or in the buyout market.

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Stay tuned for more updates on any potential Bucks acquisitions!