10 Toronto Raptors who turned their back on the franchise

Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Toronto Raptors
Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Toronto Raptors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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No. 8: Serge Ibaka

The Toronto Raptors made a big swing to upgrade their frontcourt in 2017, trading the sharpshooting Terrence Ross and a first-round pick to the Orlando Magic for Serge Ibaka. The 6'11" big man had excelled alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder for years and was one of the league's premier shot-blockers. The hope was that he could bolster the backline and make up for shaky defense on the wing from players like DeMar DeRozan.

The results were perhaps not as dominant as the Raptors had hoped, but Serge Ibaka certainly made an impact. The Raptors ranked 25th, 11th and 11th in defensive rating in the three seasons preceding his arrival; they ranked 5th, 5th and 2nd the next three seasons. While he ultimately came off the bench by the time Toronto's Finals run began in 2018-19, he played a critical role on the only championship team in franchise history.

Ibaka hit free agency a year later, and the Raptors made it clear that they wanted to bring both Ibaka and Marc Gasol back to maintain their veteran big rotation. That ultimately did not happen, as Serge Ibaka signed a two-year contract with the LA Clippers.

Why did Ibaka leave? It wasn't due to playing time, or a fracture with the front office or head coach. In fact, Ibaka claimed that "he didn't want to leave" but had to. The reason? The Clippers paid him more money.

Ibaka's decline was about to come, so perhaps he was right to secure the largest bag that he could have, but it's a tough move when a veteran player leaves the team he won a title with simply for a slightly larger payday. He chose money (and not even much; he made only $19 million over two seasons) over the Raptors.