“It’s never easy to put timetables on recoveries. We’ve seen that before,” he said. “But we are also putting a timetable out there that extends past where the season would end. So it would be unlikely he would return if we were fortunate enough to make it past this next series, which we know is going to be a challenge for us.”
Team officials did not make Ibaka available to the media after Thursday night’s series-clinching win against the Clippers. Ibaka was said to be “getting treatment” for the injury, and media members were ushered out while being instructed that the locker room was closing.
No players were available to the media Friday because the Thunder did not practice. But the Thunder will resume practice Saturday in Oklahoma City.
“We wanted to get as much information as we could before making any final determinations,” Presti said. “But based on the information that was determined (Friday), we feel we’ve got a pretty good handle on the severity of where it is.”
Ibaka was expected to be a key player for the Thunder against the Spurs because of his athleticism, shot-blocking, rebounding and shooting ability. He averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and four blocked shots in four games against San Antonio this season.
Before his injury, Ibaka was enjoying his best postseason of his career, with averages of 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.23 blocked shots. He was shooting 61.6 percent from the field. In the regular season, Ibaka averaged career highs of 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, while leading the league in total blocked shots for the fourth consecutive season.
It’s unclear who will start in Ibaka’s place. Veteran forward Nick Collison replaced Ibaka after the injury occurred, but second-year forward Perry Jones III started in place of Ibaka in the lone game he missed during the regular season. The Thunder also could move Kevin Durant to power forward and rely on a smaller lineup.
OKC also spent more time than ever before this year developing players such as Jones, guards Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson and rookie center Steven Adams. All four could be looked to for contributions in this series with San Antonio.
And with more options than ever before, the Thunder could be better equipped to overcome this injury than it was Westbrook’s last year.
“In pro sports, you have to deal with the unexpected. And this is one of those cases,” Presti said. “It’s what you do in advance of that, and I think we’re more prepared than we have been in the past to deal with something like this. And now we have to apply that.”