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Meet the new LA Clippers starting center, Serge Ibaka

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Lue says the plan is Ibaka starts.

LA Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The LA Clippers tipped off their preseason slate Friday with a 87-81 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and one of the big takeaways from that game was who will be the starting center.

New free agent signing Serge Ibaka started with the usual starting unit in the game, playing eight minutes and making two 3-pointers, tallying a block and picking up two rebounds in short order.

And after the game, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters in the postgame press conference that Ibaka is penciled in as the starter ahead of returning starter Ivica Zubac: “Right now, we’re starting with Serge at the center.”

For his part, Zubac also played in Friday’s scrimmage, leading the team with 10 rebounds in 18 minutes of work, scoring four points and notching a block along the way.

Still, while Lue said things could change over time, the current plan is for Ibaka to start at the 5.

“Right now we’re going to take a look at Serge starting, and then over the course of the season, we’ll see how it goes and how it all shakes out, but right now, Serge is the starter,” he said.

While many thought the departure of Montrezl Harrell and Doc Rivers would clear the way for Zubac to get more playing time, Ibaka’s ability to hit 3-pointers and space the floor seems to help give him the edge to tip off games.

“I think [Ibaka] can be the starter. [Zubac] started the last couple years and has done a great job. We’re just kind of seeing what fits with this team, the style of play we want to play. Tonight we went with Serge and we’ll continue to see how that looks,” Lue said.

Otherwise, Lue played nearly every player who’s in camp against the Lakers, with Marcus Morris Sr. the only returning player who didn’t feature, the veteran held out as a precaution. With just three preseason games this year, the runway to the regular season is very short, but Lue is giving plenty of players a look.

On the bright side, everyone departed Staples Center after the game with no ailments, said Lue.

“Everybody came out of the game, no injuries, so that was a plus for us,” he said.

The Clippers will face the Lakers again in preseason action on Sunday.