For the remainder of the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Clippers will not have a top frontcourt player.
Los Angeles announced on Friday that Serge Ibaka had undergone back surgery and will miss the rest of the playoffs. Before returning to the last two games of the Clippers, Ibaka missed 30 consecutive regular-season games due to a back problem. He participated in the first and second games of the team’s first-round series against the Mavericks, but he missed the next seven playoff games before the Clippers officially shut him down.
“There is nothing I like more than helping my brother on the court and winning the #ClipperNation championship,” Ibaka wrote on Instagram. “This has been a very difficult season. I tried very hard to catch up with the playoffs, but sometimes injuries can be an obstacle, and health must be the top priority.
“I thank everyone for their love and support. Now my mindset is to support my team and stay healthy and ready for the next season.”
After signing a two-year, $19 million contract with the Clippers as a free agent last year, Ibaka entered the Los Angeles starting lineup, averaging 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The 31-year-old is expected to be a key player in Tyronn Lue’s rotation because he can open up space on the offensive end while providing size and rim protection on the defensive end. But as Ibaka pointed out last month, He has been dealing with back pain throughout the season, limiting his playing time and efficiency.
If Ibaka gets a $9.7 million player option in the 2021-22 season, he may return to the Clippers next season, or he may return to the free agent market this summer.