Serge Ibaka, the No. 24 overall pick in this year's draft, has signed a three-year contract with a professional team in Spain. Ibaka's contract with Ricoh Manresa has NBA buyout clauses at the end of each season that could allow him to join Oklahoma City's franchise before the deal expires.
Financial terms of the contract and buyout clauses are unknown, but under NBA rules teams can pay up to $500,000 to buy out a player from a foreign team. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said he is aware of the signing but declined comment on the development. But Presti has said since the draft that the team will closely track Ibaka's progress, and the timetable for his arrival largely will be based on the 18-year-old power forward's improvement. "We are excited to work with him as he continues to develop overseas,” Presti said at a June 27 news conference. "And as we're developing as a team and growing as a team he will be doing so as well in Spain, and we will be working closely with him through the process.” Ibaka's new team could help speed his development. Ibaka spent the past two seasons playing for CB L'Hospitalet in the Spanish LEB Gold league. He averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and led the league in blocked shots at 3.1 per game. Ricoh Manresa, however, competes in the 18-team Spanish ACB league, the highest division of basketball in Spain. The list of former college standouts currently on rosters in the ACB league include: Melvin Sanders (Oklahoma State), Chris Thomas (Notre Dame), Nik Caner-Medley (Maryland), David Noel (North Carolina), Aaron Miles (Kansas), Marcus Haislip (Tennessee), Louis Bullock (Michigan), Quincy Lewis (Minnesota), Curtis Borchardt (Stanford), Alex Acker (Pepperdine), Scott Padgett (Kentucky), Pepe Sanchez (Temple) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (George Washington). Highly touted San Antonio Spurs draftee Tiago Splitter also plays in the league, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Marc Gasol, the younger brother of Pau Gasol, won the league's MVP award last season. When Ibaka makes his NBA debut, league rules state he can only earn the amount of money slotted for the 24th pick as outlined by the rookie scale contract of the collective bargaining agreement. Ibaka's first year salary would have been as much as $1.08 million this season.
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Serge Ibaka signed a three-year contract to play in Spain. Ibaka was drafted by Oklahoma City with the 24th pick. Associated press