Ivica Zubac was one of the young players that the Los Angeles Lakers offered to the New Orleans Pelicans in the blockbuster deal centered on All-Star big man Anthony Davis. Despite expressing their willingness to send their entire young core to New Orleans, the Lakers were still unable to secure a deal with the Pelicans before the February NBA trade deadline. When Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson pulled out from the trade negotiation with the Pelicans, most people expected Zubac to finish the 2018-19 NBA season wearing the Purple and Gold.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as Ivica Zubac, together with Michael Beasley, ended up being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Mike Muscala. According to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka informed Zubac about the trade before the Lakers faced the Boston Celtics at TD Garden last Thursday. Zubac was reportedly “surprised” by the Lakers’ decision to trade him, but he’s “super-excited” playing for the Clippers.
“Ivica Zubac was almost in bed for his customary pregame nap Thursday when Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka informed the 7-foot center he’d been traded. Zubac was ‘surprised’ but ‘super excited’ about being dealt to the Clippers — and how little of a disruption it would cause him. Not only will Zubac not have to look for a new apartment in a new city, he changed teams without even having to change hotel rooms. Hours after the trade deadline passed, the Clippers flew to Boston following a game in Indiana and stayed at the same downtown hotel as the Lakers.”
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) February 10, 2019
Like most Lakers’ fans, Ivica Zubac must be expecting that the Lakers would only include him in the trade package if they would be acquiring a superstar in return. However, the Lakers traded Zubac to the Clippers just to open one roster spot that they could use to sign a player available on the buyout market. Zubac may have struggled to make an immediate impact for the Lakers earlier this season, but in the past games, he proved that he could dominate on both ends of the floor when given decent playing time.
After the Clippers traded Boban Marjanovic and released Marcin Gortat, Ivica Zubac is expected to receive a significant role on his new team for the rest of the 2018-19 NBA season. Zubac made his debut game as a Clipper on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics. In 27 minutes of action, Zubac posted 12 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks on 50.0 percent shooting from the field.