Clippers injury updates: Marcus Morris, Serge Ibaka return to practice
The Clippers didn’t have any opportunity to see their projected starting lineup during the preseason, but that changed with Tuesday’s practice.
Starting forward Marcus Morris Sr., coming off a knee injury that hobbled him during the Western Conference finals in June, was scheduled to participate through full-contact drills Tuesday.
“This will be his first opportunity to change ends of the floor, play with some contact, trying to get acclimated to what we are trying to do,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “It shouldn’t be hard for him because he has gone through the plays, he knows what we are doing and pretty much the same thing we did last year.”
Earlier this month during training camp, Morris said he had not required offseason surgery and expressed confidence he would not be limited by his leg once the regular season began. Morris added he was taking extra precautions to take it slow in the preseason out of an understanding that a heavier workload awaited him with Kawhi Leonard expected to miss a significant chunk of the season while recovering from his own injury.
Lue also said backup center Serge Ibaka was expected to take part in his first full-contact practice Tuesday, four months after undergoing season-ending back surgery. Though Ibaka was cleared for full contact last week, the team’s travel to Dallas for a preseason game Friday limited available practice time. Lue said Ibaka would begin with three-on-three games before progressing to five-on-five.
“Serge is a great man, he’s happy all the time, I think he’s almost back,” starting center Ivica Zubac said Monday, following the Clippers’ preseason finale, a 128-100 loss to Minnesota. “I’m looking forward — we’re looking forward for him to get back, he’s a big piece.”
The Clippers and third-year guard Terance Mann agreed Tuesday on a two-year contract extension worth $22 million.
On Monday, Lue said he expected to play nine Clippers in his regular rotation early in the season, with a decision on a 10th still to be made. One day later, citing the quick turnaround of the offseason as well as wear and tear on some of the team’s veterans, Lue clarified his rotation is likely to include a 10th player.
Other than his previously announced opening-night starters of Paul George, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Morris and Zubac, Lue declined to list the others who would receive consistent minutes, but he did say that Ibaka is not among that group.
“Not yet,” Lue said. “I mean not till we figure out when he’s going to be able to play and when he’s cleared to play in a game.”
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