Serge Ibaka’s addition to the LA Clippers was a canny signing early in the 2020-21 NBA season, although his year ended prematurely due to injury. But he’s looking to run it back and hopefully play a bigger role in the upcoming season.
According to Shams Charania on Saturday, Ibaka has picked up the player option on his contract for the 2021-22 season, and will be returning to the Clippers for another campaign, as was expected.
Ibaka featured in 41 games last season for LA, starting at center for the first half or so of the season. Averaging 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, he was deemed the most important signing of the offseason by our own Sabreena Merchant, because he helped show that the Clippers were a viable landing spot for good veterans amid the transition surrounding Ty Lue’s appointment as head coach.
But Ibaka barely featured for the Clippers in the second half of the season due to a persistent back injury and made a cameo in the playoffs before undergoing back surgery. The hope, obviously, is that he returns healthy and able to withstand the rigors of a full season at 31. Is there a risk the back issues will linger even after the surgery? It’s an open question and we will have to see what happens.
But if Ibaka can return healthy for a full season, then he could very well be a piece that helps put the Clippers over the top in the playoffs. That’s certainly the hope, anyway.