There’s no denying that the Clippers didn’t get everything they wanted out of their investment in center Serge Ibaka last season. He appeared in 41 games, averaging 23 points per game. He played 3 minutes, his shortest since his rookie year, and scored 11 points. His lowest point total in a decade was 1 point.
As Ibaka dealt with back issues throughout the spring, the team was fortunate that backup Ivica Zubac stepped in and performed admirably. Ibaka returned for the final two regular-season games and the first two NBA playoff games, but then bowed out and underwent surgery.
He isn’t quite ready to return to the floor yet, but it’s getting closer, he said this week.
$00 “It’s close to 100%, you know..” So far, everything has gone well. ”
Ibaka did not give a specific return date. “Day by day,” he said.
“I don’t have a set schedule; I just go day by day.” I’ll begin by making contact. Then we’ll see how it goes. ”
Ibaka Dealt With Back Pain Throughout 2020-21
The status of Ibaka’s back will be important as the Clippers head into training camp, in part because the team will have to decide on a third center, with Harry Giles and Isaiah Hartenstein among those vying for the spot. Last year, the team signed DeMarcus Cousins to fill that role, but he will not be back this season. Because of his back injury, there was little doubt that Ibaka would opt in to the final year of his contract, which he signed last summer.
Ibaka had been dealing with a pinched nerve in his back since the start of the season and had battled it all year. Ibaka stated at the time of his injury that he was taking pain medication to treat the pinched nerve.
“It’s more nerves when your nerves come from your disc and go down in your legs,” Ibaka said. “Yeah, since the beginning of the season, it’s been a very difficult year for me..” I wanted to play through the pain, but I couldn’t play like that for much longer. ”
Lawrence Frank on Ibaka: ‘He Had a Maniacal Work Ethic’
Though it’s unclear when Ibaka will return to the court, team president Lawrence Frank praised Ibaka’s approach to rehab last week, indicating that he could be ready soon, though he, too, withheld any specifics. “He has a maniacal work ethic,” Frank said, “and he’s really attacked his rehab.” “He’s made tremendous progress… He’ll start out in training camp doing non-contact, and we’ll just assess his progress and where he’s going once we introduce contact at a certain point, which will be in a small group, probably one-on-one focus, and then build up to it and see how he responds to it.” As a result, we’ll just do it in stages. ”
The good news for the Clippers is that Zubac is expected to be fully healthy after missing Games 5 and 6 of the conference finals against the Suns due to a sprained ligament in his knee.
Regardless of what happens with Ibaka, Zubac is expected to have a breakout season on the floor this season.
“I’m in my sixth year now,” he said. “It’s time to take the next step and bring it every night,” says the narrator. On defense, talking with teammates, assisting on the floor, bringing energy and being aggressive, and finishing every night. That, I believe, is the next step for me, and for us as a team, to be consistent every night. Clean Bowled News