Ivica Zubac was part of the trade package that the Los Angeles Lakers sent to the Los Angeles Clippers to open a roster spot before the February NBA trade deadline. In an interview with Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times, Zubac admitted that he was “surprised” by the Lakers’ decision to trade him, but he’s “super-excited” being a member of the other Los Angeles team.
There are definitely a lot of things for Ivica Zubac to be excited about with the Clippers. While the Lakers continue to struggle and are unlikely to earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Clippers have kept their playoff hopes alive and are currently sitting in the No. 7 spot with a 36-29 record. After a dominant victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night, Zubac noticed one big difference between the Lakers and the Clippers.
“That’s how we gotta be,” Zubac said, according to a Twitter post by Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. “When I was with the Lakers, we didn’t have nights like this. Every game was a close game for us, but now with the Clippers, this team is really locked in, every possession against every team.”
Winning by a large margin against rebuilding teams is something that is expected from a legitimate playoff contender. However, the same thing doesn’t apply for the Lakers, despite having LeBron James on their roster. As a matter of fact, James and the Lakers are even having a hard time beating the worst teams in the league, proven by their 118-109 loss against the Western Conference’s last place team, the Phoenix Suns, on Saturday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Lakers lost to Phoenix yesterday.
The Clippers crushed the Knicks today.
Ivica Zubac can sense the difference between the teams. pic.twitter.com/tMGbawS5Hf
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) March 4, 2019
Being traded to the Clippers turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Ivica Zubac. Aside from receiving more playing time compared to his first three NBA seasons with the Lakers, the Clippers are also currently using Zubac as their starting center. In the first eight games he played as a Clipper, the 21-year-old big man is averaging 8.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks on 46.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Lakers traded Ivica Zubac with the goal of creating a roster spot to sign a quality player available on the buyout market. However, it remains a big question mark if there’s a player on the buyout market who can change the Lakers’ fate in the 2018-19 NBA season. After suffering an embarrassing defeat against the Suns, ESPN‘s Basketball Power Index projected the Lakers to have a “0.9 percent chance” of earning a playoff spot in the Western Conference.