Serge Ibaka Undergoes Season-Ending Back Surgery

Clippers center Serge Ibaka underwent surgery to address his troublesome back injury on Thursday in Los Angeles, the club announced today in a press release.

The Clippers said in their statement that Ibaka is expected to make a full recovery, but he’ll miss the rest of the 2021 postseason, regardless of how far L.A. advances.

It’s a tough break for Ibaka and for the Clippers, who had been counting on the big man’s two-way versatility and championship experience to be valuable in the postseason. His back issues have been a persistent issues this year though.

Ibaka played two games late in the regular season after being sidelined for two months due to that injury. The 31-year-old admitted to the media just after the regular season ended that he’s been dealing with a nerve issue in his back all season and that it hasn’t fully healed.

Ibaka has a player option worth $9.7MM for 2021/22. If he were 100% healthy, he’d likely turn down that option in search of a raise, but in the wake of his surgery, picking it up looks like the safer play.

With Ibaka on the shelf, Ivica Zubac and DeMarcus Cousins should continue to see minutes at the five. However, Zubac and Cousins have only combined for about 24-25 minutes in each of the first two games vs. the Jazz, as head coach Tyronn Lue has used smaller, forward-heavy lineups without a true center.

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