When the Clippers released their injury report for tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz, there were the usual suspects of Kawhi Leonard and Jason Preston, as well as Paul George and Nicolas Batum, who have suffered more recent injuries. One surprising addition was Serge Ibaka, who was ruled out of the Jazz contest for personal reasons.
With Ibaka out of the rotation and liking a tweet about being traded from the Clippers, it would be easy to speculate about the nature of Ibaka’s absence, but it appears that the Clippers center is merely the latest NBA player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols.
Law Murray of The Athletic reported that Ibaka had a close contact test positive, which is why he had to take a Covid test right before the start of Monday’s game and didn’t arrive at the team’s bench until well into the first quarter. Presumably, Ibaka tested negative; otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to sit with this teammates during the game. However, Ibaka remains away from the Clippers while they are in Utah “due to protocols”, per Murray’s report.
A source tells @TheAthletic that Serge Ibaka was a close contact yesterday and had to test right at gametime.— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) December 15, 2021
That is why he did not enter the bench area last night until later in the first quarter. Ibaka tested negative but is out for start of trip due to protocols.
The injury report still doesn’t mention any illness for Ibaka, despite the report from The Athletic. The list of players in the health and safety protocols around the NBA now includes 34 players — the league had its first postponed game Tuesday, Toronto canceled its shootaround for precautionary reasons, the Lakers canceled a practice, and the Nets had to play with only eight available players.
Perhaps the fact that Ibaka isn’t explicitly in the protocol means that he hasn’t tested positive and is instead in contact tracing. But if the Clippers are trying to be cautious by keeping him isolated from the rest of the team, it doesn’t exactly make sense why Ibaka was on the bench Monday. The Clippers have already dealt with a Covid absence this season with Batum; for the sake of everyone involved, it would be best if that were an isolated instance.
More news for Wednesday:
- Congrats to Stephen Curry, the NBA 3-point king.
- The NBA is bracing for a Covid uptick during the holidays. But beyond postponing games, what will the league actually do?
- Jake Fischer has a lot of trade buzz from around the league.
- Law Murray analyzes the connection between Marcus Morris Sr.’s rebounding and his overall effectiveness.