Serge Ibaka really likes Spain. He started his professional career there, speaks the language fluently, became a citizen this summer and helped the team take gold at Eurobasket.
So if he was going to play anywhere overseas during the lockout, you could bet it would be Spain. And that's where he signed Tuesday as he inked a two-month contract with Real Madrid worth about $140,000 per month. The deal includes an option to return to the NBA earlier if the lockout ends.
“I'm very proud to start being part of an historic club like Real Madrid. I'm thankful for this great opportunity as a person and as a player. I arrive with humility to try to learn from the coach and the teammates and, at the same time, with ambition to try to help the team win as many games as possible while I'm with the team. I'm excited to get to know the team's fans.”What Real was after though is to sign Ibaka for the future, as they did with Rudy Fernandez. That’s extremely unlikely as Ibaka is very happy in Oklahoma City with the Thunder.
Real Madrid bolsters an already strong club that features Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull, Sergio Rodriguez and 2011 NBA draftees Nikola Mirotic and Ante Tomic.
Ibaka is set to leave for Madrid Tuesday evening after spending the last few weeks in Oklahoma City and Miami working out.
The Thunder have had only two players defect overseas during the lockout with Thabo Sefolosha signing in Turkey with Fenerbache and Byron Mullens signing for a short stint in Greece. Kevin Durant’s name was tossed around a bit during the summer but it’s not looking like he’s going anywhere. Durant set a deadline of Oct. 1 to make a decision to go overseas and since it’s Oct. 24 and he hasn’t signed anywhere, I think he’s staying put.