Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors were disappointed with Kawhi Leonardâ€™s decision to walk away from the team after leading them to an NBA championship last June.
However, he understands the decision Kawhi had to make and was happy for him making it back home to Southern California with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Josh Lewenberg caught up with Serge Ibaka and asked him about his thoughts on Kawhi leaving the North behind. His response was a rather pensive one:
Serge told me he kept his distance from Kawhi this summer, didn’t think it was fair to influence his decision.
“After he made his decision we spoke on the phone. I said ‘you know what bro, I’m a little sad you’re leaving us, its disappointing as a friend, but I’m happy for you”
â€” Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) September 28, 2019
Serge Ibaka was a key player for the Raptorsâ€™ campaign for the title. He finished the season averaging 15.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks on a 53% shooting clip.
However, itâ€™s undeniable that Kawhi was the key to their success. The LA native finished the season strong, averaging 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 blocks on 50% shooting.
While Kawhiâ€™s loss did was more than a punch in the gut for the Raptors, the team believes that they will be putting up a better fight this coming season.
â€œIf I had to express it in one word, I would say â€˜hungry. I think itâ€™s a very hungry team. We all understand what Kawhi meant to the team and how well he played in the playoffs. But we also understand how good we can be as a team,â€ said Gasol via Real GM.
Nick Nurse will be counting more on Pascal Siakam, who proved himself to be a revelation last season. With numbers like 16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, and 3.1 apg on a 55% shooting clip, itâ€™s hot weird for them to expect more from him.
They will celebrate their banner ceremony without the man that brought them the ring. However, Ibaka and the Raptors will be raring to prove to everyone they will not go down without a fight.