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#pounditTuesday, December 6, 2022

Thunder could reunite with ex-Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook teammate?

Kevin Durant

The Oklahoma City Thunder may be trying to kick it back to their glory days.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on Tuesday that veteran big man Serge Ibaka is the likeliest trade candidate for the LA Clippers ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Fischer adds that the Thunder are a trade partner to monitor for a potential Ibaka deal.

The 32-year-old Ibaka played for the Thunder from 2009 to 2016 during the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook era. He had the best years of his career in Oklahoma City, establishing himself as arguably the best interior defender in the league at the time. Ibaka made three All-Defensive First Teams with the Thunder and led the NBA in blocks twice. He also made the Finals with the team in 2012.

Fischer notes that getting rid of Ibaka’s $9.7 million salary would itself save the Clippers over $40 million in tax penalties. That is one of many reasons why the team may be sellers at the trade deadline.

Ibaka is averaging some of the worst numbers of his career this season with 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. While he has gotten more playing time recently with Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein missing time, Ibaka has also seemed unhappy with his spot in the pecking order.

The 13-27 Thunder are very clearly a rebuilding team. But they might be able to give Ibaka more minutes, which could be a preferable scenario for him, especially if the Clippers cannot compete for a title this season.

Photo: Feb 3, 2020; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant (7) smiles during a time out during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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