The Clippers will be without one of their best front row players for the remainder of the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Los Angeles announced Friday that Serge Ibaka has had back surgery and will miss the rest of the playoffs. Ibaka missed 30 straight regular season games with back problems before returning for the Clippers’ final two games. He played in Games 1 and 2 of the team’s first-round series against the Mavericks, but was sidelined from the next seven playoff games before the Clippers officially stopped him.
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“There is nothing I would love more than to be on the pitch helping my brothers and trying to win a championship for #ClipperNation,” Ibaka wrote in an Instagram post. “It was a really tough season, I worked really hard to be back in time for the playoffs, but sometimes injuries get in the way and health has to be a priority.
“I appreciate all the love and support from everyone and now I have my mindset to support my team and be healthy and ready for next season.”
After signing a two-year, $ 19 million contract with the Clippers in free agency last year, Ibaka entered the starting lineup from LA and averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. . The 31-year-old was expected to be a key part of Tyronn Lue’s rotation due to his ability to stretch the ground on offense while providing size and rim protection on the defensive side. But as Ibaka noted last month, he suffered from back pain throughout the season, limiting his playing time and his efficiency.
Ibaka could return to the Clippers next season if he recovers his $ 9.7million player option for the 2021-22 season, or he could return to free agency this summer.