After Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson pulled out from the trade negotiation with the New Orleans Pelicans centered on Anthony Davis, most people expected the young core of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac to finish the 2018-19 NBA season wearing the Purple and Gold. However, the Lakers surprisingly engaged in two separate deals to acquire Reggie Bullock from the Detroit Pistons and Mike Muscala from the Los Angeles Clippers where they lost Zubac, Svi Mykhailiuk, Michael Beasley, and a future second-round pick in the process.
Reggie Bullock is undeniably a great addition to the Lakers, given by his reputation of efficiently knocking down shots from beyond the arc. However, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report strongly believes that the Lakers will soon regret trading Ivica Zubac for Mike Muscala.
“Bullock should be more productive than the inexperienced Mykhailiuk through the rest of the season, but will Muscala prove more valuable than Zubac? The initial estimation is no, he won’t, but Muscala has another 26 games to prove himself—more if he can help the Lakers (28-28) catch two of the Sacramento Kings (30-26), San Antonio Spurs (32-26) and Clippers (31-26) for a postseason berth. As the Lakers go star-chasing, Muscala looks like a short-term fix, whereas Zubac may be an inexpensive, long-term contributor in Los Angeles—just now with the Clippers.”
Aside from being younger and having a cheaper contract, Pincus thinks that Ivica Zubac will be more useful to the Lakers than Mike Muscala in their potential matchup against the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, if ever they succeed to enter the Western Conference Playoffs 2019. Before he was traded to the Clippers, Zubac was already showing a massive improvement with his performance on both ends of the floor. In his debut game as a Clipper, Zubac didn’t waste the opportunity to prove himself after dropping 12 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks on 50.0 percent shooting from the field against the Boston Celtics.
However, it is worth noting that the Lakers didn’t engage in a trade deal with the Clippers just to acquire Mike Muscala but also to create a roster spot to sign a player who is or will be available on the buyout market. Some of their potential targets include LeBron James’ close pal Carmelo Anthony, fellow Klutch Sports client Markieff Morris, and Enes Kanter. As of now, the Lakers must be hoping that Muscala and the player that they will acquire from the buyout market could help them end their playoff drought this season.