Serge Ibaka might need knee surgery
Losing the 25-year-old Congolese-born Spaniard for any length of time would be another injury setback for a club already without 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant for 39 games with foot injuries and that has lost star guard Russell Westbrook for 15 games this season.
Ibaka has averaged 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots over 64 games this season for the Thunder, who have overcome the injury setbacks to stand 37-29, their best win percentage at any point this season, and one game ahead of New Orleans for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth.
“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,” the Thunder said.
ESPN reported that Ibaka will undergo a procedure of some type to deal with the lingering soreness, likely some time of cleaning out of the knees that would allow him to be ready for next month’s NBA playoffs.
Even a minor surgical procedure might still sideline Ibaka for two or three weeks and only four weeks remain in the NBA regular season with the playoffs far from certain for Oklahoma City.
With 16 games remaining in the campaign, the Thunder must fight off New Orleans just for the chance to face the West top seed, which at this point would be NBA overall leader Golden State.
While Westbrook has raised his game in Durant’s absence and leads the NBA with 27.5 points a game, New Orleans is hot on Oklahoma City’s heels and boasts the league’s fourth-best scorer in Anthony Davis, averaging 24.7 points.