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Ivica Zubac latest Clippers player to enter COVID protocols

Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) dunks during the first half.
Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Clippers center Ivica Zubac entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols Thursday, becoming the team’s fourth player currently sidelined because of the protocols.

Zubac had played every regular-season game since being traded to the Clippers in February 2019, a streak that ends at 205 games. He had started all 35 games this season, averaging a career-best 9.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25 minutes per game, also a career best.

His absence leaves the Clippers with 10 available players before Friday’s game in Toronto, and 11 if point guard Reggie Jackson is available. He is listed as questionable while he ramps up his conditioning following his own stay in the health and safety protocols. Teams are required to play if they have at least eight available players. It is feasible for the Clippers to add another player on a hardship exception in time for Friday’s game in Toronto, even with Canada’s border-entry requirements.

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With temporary roster sports opening because of COVID protocols, James Ennis III hopes to make an impression on the Clippers and anyone else watching.

Nicolas Batum (ankle) and Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle) remain out for the Clippers.

Of their available players, only one is a traditional center: Serge Ibaka, who is making his homecoming to Toronto for the first time since Feb. 28, 2020. Ibaka won the 2019 NBA championship with the Raptors before signing with the Clippers as a free agent months later. The Raptors played in Tampa, Fla. last season. Ibaka had been out of coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation only two weeks ago, but the injury to Hartenstein, the backup, and now Zubac’s absence have thrown him into a larger role.


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