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Serge Ibaka, Raptors agree to three-year, $65 million deal, per report

Ibaka’s deal is the first step to bringing back a potential Eastern Conference contender.

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

As the first move to bringing back a core that fell below expectations last season, the Toronto Raptors have re-signed power forward Serge Ibaka to a three-year deal worth $65 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The move is believed to be the first domino before the Raptors re-sign All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry to attempt for a deeper playoff run next season.

The Raptors traded Terrence Ross and their 2017 first-round pick to the Magic for Ibaka at the trade deadline, creating one of the East’s more-feared starting lineups. The two-way stretch four averaged 14 points and seven rebounds on 40 percent three-point shooting for the remainder of the regular season, but he did so without Lowry, who suffered a wrist injury just before the All-Star break that sidelined him until April.

Toronto was able to sneak out of a tough first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks before they were swept out of the second round by the Cavaliers. Now, the Raptors hope to salvage some of their end-of-the-season momentum into next year by bringing their core back.

With Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan locked in, the Raptors are inevitably a playoff team. Bringing back Lowry legitimizes Toronto at the point guard position, and the Eastern Conference weakened when two All-Stars were traded to the West. On pace to bring their starters back, the Raptors are in clear contention with Boston and Washington as second-fiddle to LeBron’s Cavaliers in the East.

And that’s not a bad place to be.