The Los Angeles Clippers frontcourt just got a little more thin. The team announced that Serge Ibaka, who has been dealing with back issues for lengthy spells of this season, required surgery that will end his postseason. While these sorts of procedures on someone’s back can be tricky, the team did say that Ibaka is expected to make a full recovery.
Ibaka came to the Clippers this offseason on a two-year deal that includes a player option for the 2021-22 campaign. He was a productive member of the team’s rotation, starting 39 of the 41 games in which he appeared and averaging 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game.
But back in March, Ibaka hurt his back, an injury that lingered throughout the remainder of the season. The team had hoped he’d be able to contribute during the playoffs, but after playing in the team’s final two regular season tilts and first two postseason contests, playing through the injury became untenable, and Ibaka was shut down. He kept getting updated on a game-to-game basis, with the team formally shutting him down on Friday.
The Clippers do still have options in the frontcourt, with Ivica Zubac and DeMarcus Cousins the headliners in their non-small ball lineups, but losing Ibaka for the remainder of the playoffs is a gigantic blow for a team that is currently in a 2-0 hole to the Utah Jazz in the conference semifinals.