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Ibaka Out for Remainder of Regular Season
Sunday, April 12
Royce Young of ESPN passed along comments from Scott Brooks, who said that Ibaka will not return during the regular season
On April 8, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman reported that Ibaka "isn't close" to a return, according to head coach Scott Brooks.
On March 21, Ibaka claimed he would be out three to four weeks following knee surgery, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman reported.
Mayberry reported on March 17 that Ibaka would be out for four to six weeks following the surgery, sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season.
Young passed along a statement from a Thunder spokesman on the next step in Ibaka's injury process: "As we continue to monitor and evaluate the soreness in Serge's knee, in consultation with his representation, we decided the next best step is to have him travel to New York to see a specialist. We will provide an update as appropriate."
Young reported that Ibaka is expected to have a clean-out procedure on the knee in the hopes that he will be ready for the postseason.
Oklahoma City's season has been defined by injuries. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant is currently sidelined after a procedure to help him with lingering issues from a Jones fracture that forced him to miss the Thunder's first 17 games. Russell Westbrook also missed time in October and November with a fractured right hand and is currently playing with a mask after a facial injury.
In the interim, Enes Kanter, Mitch McGary and Nick Collison will see more playing time in OKC's frontcourt. Collison remains steady on a per-minute basis, but he is 34 and far better off in an auxiliary role.
Should Ibaka miss significant time, the major long-term ramifications would not come until May and June. At the beginning of the season, the Thunder were expected to contend for an NBA Finals berth. But instead, they're battling just to land the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
New Orleans isn't going away anytime soon as the two squads battle for the final postseason spot, and New Orleans holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Every loss from here on out takes on an increased magnitude for the Thunder, who haven't been nearly as good as people expected—even when at full health.
For now, no panic is needed. Ibaka might be deemed OK in time to ensure a postseason berth for the Thunder. But if he's not 100 percent, OKC will have plenty of reason to worry.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter @tylerconway22.