“I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant. But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried three years to get KG before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal.”
Ibaka never demanded a trade, league sources told The Vertical, and he put together a productive season (12.6 points and 6.8 rebounds) while sharing the frontcourt rotation with the emerging Steven Adams and a slightly more reliable Enes Kanter. But the Thunder are proactive; the possibility of them losing an asset for nothing is unsettling.
Last season, Ibaka believed it could. In the months after Oklahoma City hired coach Billy Donovan, Ibaka formed a strong bond with the incoming coach, league sources told The Vertical, and entered the season believing he would have an expanded role in the offense. He didn’t. “There was an expectation of a larger role,” Ibaka’s agent, Andy Miller, told The Vertical. “It was overpromised and under-delivered. Everyone should be held to the same level of accountability across the board.”
Ibaka bristled about his lack of touches in Oklahoma City and for the past year has been sending signals he might leave in free agency, sources have told ESPN.com. Goran Dragic and his camp agitated in the same way as the Suns imploded during the final year of Dragic’s deal; the Heat swooped in and nabbed the guard for two first-round picks and zero relevant players.
The premise — that Hayward is unhappy and has demanded a trade — simply isn’t true, multiple sources in the Jazz organization and close to Hayward told the Deseret News. Would Hayward like to play for his old Butler coach and close friend Brad Stevens? Of course he would. Anybody would be silly to believe otherwise.