It started a little after 4 p.m. when Serge Ibaka, unrestricted free agent and F.O.K., tweeted out this intriguing image of him on a private aircraft headed ???
The seven-footer is, of course, a top free agent this off-season and the target of Kevin Durant’s coaxing, according to multiple reports. But the Nets currently have only the taxpayer MLE, a $5.7 million starting salary on a three-year, $18 million max. They might, through some deft cap management and exquisite contract timing, be able to get under the luxury tax and pick up the right to offer the full $9.2 million MLE, but even then, that’s a huge drop-off from the $23.2 million the 2019 NBA champion made last season and a presumed $12 to $15 million market this season.
How much, one might ask, is Kevin Durant’s friendship (and the prospect of another ring) worth? Still, it didn’t take internet sleuths long to plot out possibilities for Ibaka’s final destination.
The flight to Teterboro, by the way, was supposed to land at 6:53 p.m. Friday.
HOWEVER, did those same sleuths check on flights from Opa Locka Airport to an airport near Tampa, where the Raptors will play this year because of COVID restrictions ... and where the Raps no doubt are planning some promotions?
Adding to the mystery was a Instagram comment posted by Tony Durant, Kevin’s brother, who was asked where Ibaka was headed. “Brooklyn,” he responded.
Kevin Durant’s brother Tony, in an Instagram comment, says free agent Serge Ibaka is headed to the Brooklyn Nets.— Christopher Lavinio (@ChrisLavinio) November 20, 2020
Free agency begins at 6 PM ET. pic.twitter.com/Sb1TmX5jed
Of course, we know trolling is KD’s specialty. Maybe it’s family trait. Just sayin’.
By 2 p.m. Saturday, wherever he wound up, Ibaka was awaiting a visit from the Raptors front office, per Michael Grange of the Toronto Sun...
Raptors president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster are on their way from Chicago to meet Serge Ibaka later this afternoon/evening.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) November 21, 2020
The Raptors agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal with Fred VanVleet, their big free agent, earlier Saturday.
So we will have to wait some more, In the meantime, keep sleuthing.