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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Serge Ibaka unhappy with Clippers?

Serge Ibaka in street clothes

The LA Clippers’ recent surge may ironically be alienating their literal Serge.

Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reported that Serge Ibaka did not emerge from the locker room to take his seat with the Clippers until eight minutes into their game on Monday against the Phoenix Suns.

Ibaka is currently out of Clippers coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation and has not played in over a week. Before the game, Lue would only say that he has had conversations with Ibaka that he would keep between them.

The former All-Defensive First Teamer Ibaka was a highly-coveted signing when he first landed with the Clippers in 2020. But a back injury led to the premature end of his first season in L.A. as well as a late start to this season. Ibaka had been brought along slowly as he worked his way back into game shape but soon found himself leapfrogged in the rotation by Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein. The former is an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, while the latter is a high-IQ defender and playmaker with a feathery touch in the paint. That has left Ibaka as a DNP-CD, even if he is now healthy. The Clippers have also won their last four games with Ibaka out of the rotation.

Ibaka is 32 now, and his chemistry with Kawhi Leonard is of no use with Leonard still sidelined due to an ACL injury. Ibaka’s numbers this season (4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game) are the worst of his career, and now he is not even playing at all. That has to be frustrating for anybody but especially for Ibaka. You may recall that similar circumstances led to Ibaka leaving his previous team.

Photo: Jun 7, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (9) walks into Oracle Arena prior to game four of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

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