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Clippers center Ivica Zubac out at least a month due to right calf strain

Ivica Zubac has averaged a career-high 12.4 points per game while shooting 65.5% from the field this season for the Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac will be sidelined for at least a month due to a calf strain, the team announced Tuesday.

Zubac was a late scratch in the Clippers’ 109-105 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to right calf tightness, coach Ty Lue said after the game. While it’s unclear how Zubac aggravated his calf this time, it clearly hasn’t gotten any better in the days since Sunday’s loss.

Now, Zubac will be out for at least the next four weeks while the Clippers reevaluate.

Zubac has dealt with a series of right calf injuries in his career. He sustained a right calf strain just before the All-Star break last season, and he missed a pair of games in the 2021-22 season due to right calf soreness.

Ivica Zubac has averaged a career-high 12.4 points per game while shooting 65.5% from the field this season for the Clippers
Ivica Zubac has averaged a career-high 12.4 points per game while shooting 65.5% from the field this season for the Clippers. (Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Zubac has been having a career campaign with the Clippers. He has averaged a career-high 12.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 65.5% from the field. He went 27 consecutive games shooting at least 50% from the field, too, though that streak was snapped last week. The Clippers won 21 of those 27 games.

The Clippers entered Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 25-14 record, which is just three games back from the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves. The Clippers have lost just two of their past 10 games, too, and did so by a combined seven points.

Without Zubac, the Clippers will turn to both backup centers Daniel Theis and Mason Plumlee to try to fill the void. Theis started in place of Zubac on Sunday but had just three points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. Plumlee came off the bench in that game and played 16 minutes. Neither Theis nor Plumlee is averaging more than 6.5 points per game this season.

If Zubac is indeed out just four weeks, he could return in time for the Clippers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 14 — which would mean he’d miss 13 games. While most of the attention is on the Clippers’ big three of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden, Zubac is a key piece to their lineup and one that will be hard to replace over the next month.