We all knew a suspension was coming for Serge Ibaka of the Raptors after his role in the fracas on Monday night. It was, after all, Ibaka who started the altercation physically — even if the Cavaliers’ Marquese Chriss may have incited it with words (and some questionable in-game arm grabbing). There’s just no way to get away with that kind of violence, e.g. punches thrown, in the NBA. For his part — which also included a jab — Chriss will serve a one-game suspension.
From Shams Charania, the man on the inside, we get the official announcement:
Sources: Toronto’s Serge Ibaka has been suspended three games by NBA for altercation with Cleveland’s Marquese Chriss. Chriss was suspended one game.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 12, 2019
Unfortunately for Serge, he’s no stranger to physical altercations, which likely explains why the suspension for him is more than one game. If you’ll recall, it was around this time two seasons ago that Ibaka got into it with the Bulls’ Robin Lopez. In that case, both players were suspended a game, a reasonable-ish base line for the league whenever punches are thrown. (Thanks to the Athletic for reminding me of the James Johnson situation last year.) In this case, given Ibaka’s recent history and the fact that he clearly decided a physical fight with Chriss was necessary, the heavier levy applied. And you know what? Fair enough.
Anyway, if you’re so inclined, here’s the footage of the actual sequence of events that lead to the fight:
1) Serge Ibaka and Marquese Chriss get tangled up— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 12, 2019
2) Ibaka falls, Chriss stares him down
3) Ibaka gets up and grabs Chriss by the neck
4) both throw punches
5) both get ejected
All in all, it was not the best game of the year for the Raptors — as we’ve covered here and here. They lost to the Cavaliers, a team they should have wrecked, with both Kyle Lowry and Danny Green sustaining minor annoying injuries. Now they’ll have to play without Ibaka against the Lakers (on Thursday), their possible first round opponent the Pistons (on Sunday), and the Knicks (in a back-to-back on Monday). Just not great, Bob, all around.
Still, this ultimately won’t hurt Toronto record-wise, as they’re remain very much locked into second place. On the other hand, good lord, the stink off this game will be hard to shake off. Even if, as Blake Murphy helpfully figured out, there are some tax savings to be had for the Raptors.
Silver lining only for the Raptors: An Ibaka suspension will give them a not-insignificant luxury tax credit.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 12, 2019
About $75K per-game (50% of 1/145th of his salary), which is about $261K after tax. Per game!
Let this be a lesson to everyone: fighting is not good — for the most part.