When Real Madrid signed locked-out Oklahoma City Thunder blocksmith Serge Ibaka, he figured to be the missing piece to a puzzle the Spanish side’s been seeking for a few seasons now: A swatting specialist with speed, defensive skills and the proverbial tremendous upside.
Today, Spain-based Tu Basket reveals that, prior to Ibaka signing with Real, Madrid also had another NBA player on the hook for about the same price, namely the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge. Reportedly, Madrid officials at that time preferred the possibilities with Ibaka, since the Blazer would need time to adapt and would be doing his first stint outside the U.S.; Aldridge’s attacking play also essentially represents a diametric opposite to Ibaka’s game.
Tu Basket correctly points out that perhaps the Madrid brain trust overlooked the fact that Aldridge had been good friends and teammates with Sergio Rodriguez since the latter first came to Portland in 2006.
Ibaka’s play has been lackluster for Real Madrid in both Euroleague and Liga Endesa competition. While second-best in the EL in blocks per minute, Ibaka is playing just 12 per game while averaging just 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds – serious comedowns from his 2010-11 season with the Thunder. His numbers are hardly better in Spain: In 12.0 minutes per game, his line reads 4.8 ppg, 2.8 rbg and 1.0 bbg.
Signed to a three-month deal, the expiration of Ibaka’s contract would allow Real Madrid to sign a replacement in early January. Would that be the time, wonders Tu Basket, to rectify a mistake and pen Aldridge?