Ivica Zubac

Pacific Notes: Kings, Durant, Zubac

The Kings haven’t necessarily solidified a spot in the deep Western Conference playoff picture but there’s still reason to celebrate given their 18-15 record at this point in the season. Jason Jones of The Athletic examines how the team has drastically improved in 2018/19.

The Kings have benefited from the monstrous strides De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have taken this season. That backcourt, Jones writes, is emerging as one of the most fun to watch in the NBA.

Of course contributions from other young veterans like Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic have helped the Kings at least appear to turn a corner early on.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Potential free agent Kevin Durant hasn’t exactly tipped his hand as to what he plans to do this summer but he did tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he wants to make sure he can get “as much money as [he] can on his next deal.” The Warriors are the only team eligible to offer him a five-year max contract, worth around $221MM. That’s one year and nearly $60MM more than any other team.
  • Although he can’t vote for his own player, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic and the rest of the media that he thinks more people should consider Deandre Ayton when discussing potential Rookie of the Year winners. In his last five games, Ayton has averaged 22.8 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
  • While it’s not always easy to find three pure centers minutes in a regulation basketball match, that’s one problem Lakers coach Luke Walton will be happy to welcome after two solid spot starts from third-stringer Ivica Zubac this week. The third-year center dropped 16 and 11 on the Pelicans on last Friday and followed that up with 19 points and four blocks against the Grizzlies on Saturday. “Luke’s always been saying to me that he trusts me,” the 21-year-old big man told Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. “If there’s a chance to put me on the floor, he’s gonna put me there and he’s gonna always trust me like every other player on the team. I’ve been doing the same stuff every day”.

Lakers Notes: McGee, Zubac, LeBron, Davis

Lakers center JaVale McGee was discharged from the hospital on Saturday after dealing with pneumonia, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. McGee spent three days at the UCLA Medical Center beginning on Thursday, around the time he produced a 104-degree fever, Haynes wrote.

McGee has missed the Lakers’ past three games with what the team called “flu-like symptoms,” beginning on December 16 against the Wizards. He’ll miss his fourth straight game with the respiratory infection on Sunday against Memphis, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play in Golden State for their Christmas Day showdown on Tuesday.

“I feel a little better,” McGee told Haynes. “Surprisingly, I didn’t lose any weight. All I can do is get healthy and get back in shape as soon as possible so that I can contribute towards making us a playoff-contending team. This is such a great organization, and the way we’re battling and the way our young fellas are holding it down with the injuries we’ve endured is incredible. I’m proud of how we pulled off that game against New Orleans [on Friday]. I just can’t wait to get back.”

McGee was severely dehydrated prior to the Dec. 16 game against Washington, and several attempts to administer an IV were unsuccessful due to complications of finding a vein, Haynes reported. He remains intent on getting better in time to receive his second championship ring this Tuesday, won this past season as a member of the Warriors.

“Of course, that’s the only thing, the only game I’ve been thinking about while being bedridden is the Christmas Day game,” McGee said, according to Haynes. “No offense to the other teams, but that’s really important to me. I’ve got to get better for that game. That’s the homecoming, the ring ceremony. It’s really important.”

McGee has played an important role for the Lakers this season, starting in all 29 of his games while holding per-game averages of 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. His scoring mark of 11.8 points is the highest of his 11-year career, and his average playing time of 23.5 minutes per contest is the most since the 2011/12 season.

There’s more out of Los Angeles today:

  • The Lakers started Ivica Zubac in place of McGee on Friday, and the 21-year-old made the most of his opportunity to help seal a team win, Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com writes. Zubac recorded 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 32 minutes of action. “Zu got the game ball tonight for sure,” teammate LeBron James said of Zubac. “His impact both offensively and defensively was huge for us tonight.”
  • James once again showed the power of his voice this past week, passionately discussing his desire to play with other NBA All-Stars and his displeasure with the mindsets of some NFL owners, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. “People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me,” James said. “At all.”
  • The Lakers will likely have outside competition for Anthony Davis if they express interest in trading for him, writes Mark Heisler of the OC Register. Several league observers believe the Celtics possess enough long-term assets to make a serious run at Davis, a player whom the franchise has eyed in past seasons. Other wild card teams could join the fray if New Orleans opts to explore moving Davis in the coming months. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was adamant this past week that the team wouldn’t trade Davis, explaining that it’s “not an option” for the club.

Lack Of Confidence In Zubac Led Lakers To Sign Chandler

The Lakers added Tyson Chandler today in a move that was made in part because the team’s lack of confidence in former second-round pick Ivica Zubac, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times reports.

Zubac has had promising appearances as a Laker, like a game against Portland last week in which he had nine points and eight rebounds. Still, Los Angeles is giving up 12.7 offensive rebounds per game this year, a figure that ranks near the bottom of the league. The lack of frontcourt depth along with Zubac’s inconsistency plays a part in the struggles.

Zubac understands that he’ll see less playing time with the addition of Chandler. “That’s up to coaches but I’m playing my hardest,” Zubac said. “I’m trying to grab all the boards. We had some problems with offensive rebounds and second-chance points in the last couple of games. That’s my main focus, just to get those defensive boards.”

Chandler is expected to make his debut for the Lakers on Wednesday against the Timberwolves,  Jordan Schultz of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

Lakers Rumors: Chandler, Walton, Johnson

Tyson Chandler probably won’t have a major impact as the backup center behind JaVale McGee, according to Matt John of Basketball Insiders. Chandler is expected to sign with the Lakers once he clears waivers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Suns. Kyle Kuzma didn’t handle the role of backup center well and Ivica Zubac hasn’t earned coach Luke Walton‘s trust, John continues. Phoenix’s defensive rating with Chandler on the court wasn’t much different than when he was off it over the past three seasons but he’s still an upgrade over the current options, John adds.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The team may be hitting the panic button with regularity this season, Mark Whicker of the Los Angeles Times opines. Their poor defensive effort against Toronto on Sunday night was the type that leads to impulsive front office action such as firing the coach, Whicker continues. Walton was the betting favorite to lose his job before any other coach, Whicker notes. And though Walton has remained in charge despite some grumbling from Magic Johnson, more performances like the one against the Raptors could change that, Whicker adds.
  • The way Johnson tore into Walton last week could negatively impact the way free agents view the franchise, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes. Walton deserves a chance to figure things out and Johnson came across as a bully for dressing down Walton in a meeting last week, Plaschke continues. The fact that the story was leaked to the media shows dysfunction in the front office and that’s not a good look for free agents, who will be seeking stability next summer, Plaschke adds.
  • Johnson said Walton’s job was safe after Sunday’s game. Get the details here.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Lakers, Suns, Jackson, Kerr

Lakers coach Luke Walton will use the preseason to sort out his options at center, Joey Ramirez of the Lakers’ website reports. While JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac are the more conventional centers on the roster, the team is exploring small ball looks with Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley at the five spot. Walton was particularly intrigued by what he saw from Kuzma during the team’s preseason game against Denver on Sunday.

“There were a few fundamental breakdowns of how we want to play the defense from that spot, but his effort was there,” said the Lakers’ head coach. “He wants the challenge again, and we’re gonna give it to him again.”

In other developments from around the Pacific Division:

  • LeBron James will play in the Lakers‘ first preseason game at Staples Center on Tuesday but point guard Lonzo Ball will be held out, Ramirez writes in the same story. Ball is participating in full practices but the team is playing it safe in his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July, Ramirez adds.
  • The Suns have become the latest NBA team to enter a jersey sponsorship deal with a corporate partner, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, who reports that the club will display PayPal ads on its uniforms going forward. There are now 25 clubs with jersey sponsors.
  • Josh Jackson is the Suns’ X factor this season, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. The 2017 lottery pick is viewed by new coach Igor Kokoskov as a high-energy player who can make his biggest impact on the defensive end. “In the half court, he’s pretty good, but open court, he’s one of the best,” Kokoskov told Rankin. “So let’s play to his strength and emphasize his defense.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes he’s made significant progress from his prior back issues, Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. Kerr spoke of his health during a Tim Kawakami podcast. “I work every day — I do a lot of stuff to make sure I’m staying on the improving path,” he said. “The worst is behind me … when I had to sit out in the (2017) playoffs, that was a brutally difficult time and I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen. I think all of that is behind me and I’m looking at much better days.” Kerr’s interview with Kawakami from The Athletic can be found here.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Redick, Zubac

Lonzo Ball‘s ability as a passer has never been questioned but his ability to shoot has been a concern ever since the 2017 NBA Draft.  As Ball prepares for his sophomore campaign, it appears he has simplified the release on his jumper, Joe Morgan of Sporting News writes.

In his first season, Ball shot 36% from the field and 30.5% from beyond the arc. Those numbers are going to need improvement as he prepares to play with LeBron James, a notorious playmaker who relies on outside shooters. There is reason to believe that Ball can be an effective shooter as he shot 55.1% from the floor and 42.1% from three-point range in his lone season at UCLA.

Based on videos of Ball in preseason workouts, it appears he has dropped the hitch in his release that had been a concern. With a simplified jumper, it should help Ball have a quicker — and hopefully more accurate — release.

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • Speaking of reliable shooters, after LeBron James signed with the Lakers, the team reportedly intensified its pursuit of veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Appearing on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast (via USA Today), Redick said there was an opportunity to join the Lakers, but he also had offers from the Pacers and Suns. Redick ultimately re-signed with the Sixers.
  • Both Ivica Zubac and Svi Mykhailiuk are with their respective national teams as they both approach a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, per NBA.com. Zubac is with the Croatian team while Mykhailiuk is with the Ukranian team

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bridges, Labissiere, Clippers

The Lakers ensured themselves a successful offseason when they signed LeBron James, but they still need to fill a vacancy at center, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders. The addition of free agent JaVale McGee doesn’t really solidify the position, and the only other choices on the roster are rookie Moe Wagner and Ivica Zubac.

With David West and Brandan Wright as the best free agents left on the market, John identifies several potential trade targets, including Tristan Thompson, James’ former teammate in Cleveland. Thompson is a physical rebounder and defender with whom James had a good rapport. However, John notes that he may not be available unless Cleveland decides to rebuild.

Other possibilities include the Bismack Biyombo, who finds himself in a center logjam after being traded to Charlotte, the Bucks’ John Henson, the Bulls’ Robin Lopez, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie swingman Mikal Bridges was a little disappointed he didn’t play more in the summer league, James Blancarte of Basketeball Insiders reports. “It’s tough you know. Coming in mentally, you don’t know what the coach is going to do and how they are going to play you,” Bridges told Blancarte. “Couple of games, not playing as much as I thought I was going to be [playing]. Just staying mentally [tough], going through that.” Bridges averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 20 MPG during five Las Vegas outings. He will also likely have wait his turn during his rookie campaign but Phoenix thought enough of him to swing a draft-night trade with the Sixers, Blancarte notes.
  • Kings big man Skal Labissiere is looking to improve his durability during his offseason workouts, Jason Wise of the team’s website relays. Memphis-area trainer Raheem Shabazz has made Instagram posts showing the work Labissiere is putting in as he prepares for his third NBA season.
  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.

Lakers Plan To Guarantee Ivica Zubac’s Contract

The Lakers plan to guarantee center Ivica Zubac’s contract for next season, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Los Angeles had a Saturday deadline to make the decision. Zubac will make $1,544,951.

The 7’1” Zubac will be entering his third season. He averaged 3.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 9.5 MPG while making 43 appearances last season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/23/18

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:


  • The Kings have assigned former first-round pick Bruno Caboclo to their G League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports California. Caboclo, 22, has averaged 14.4 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 34 G League games this season; however, he has yet to suit up for the Bighorns, having been traded from Toronto earlier this season.


  • Two young Lakers big men, Thomas Bryant and Ivica Zubac, have been assigned to the G League, according to a press release from the team. Bryant and Zubac are expected to play for the South Bay Lakers on Friday night against the Memphis Hustle.
  • The Magic have sent Rodney Purvis and Khem Birch to their G League affiliate, the team announced today (via Twitter). The duo figures to suit up on Friday night for the Lakeland Magic.
  • Rookie forward Damyean Dotson has been assigned to the G League, according to an announcement from the Knicks (via Twitter). Dotson will play for the Westchester Knicks – New York’s affiliate – in the club’s regular season finale on Friday night.
  • The Thunder have recalled Dakari Johnson from the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Johnson helped the Oklahoma City Blue pick up a victory on Thursday night by posting 23 points, 13 rebounds (11 offensive), and six assists vs. Austin.

Pacific Notes: Green, Zubac, Ulis, Knight

The NBA has rescinded a technical foul that was assessed to Warriors forward Draymond Green this past Saturday, per ESPN. The rescinded foul would have been Green’s 15th, one shy of an immediate one-game suspension and $5,000 fine.

With one less technical on his record, Green is now two shy of the automatic suspension and fine. Green has been the NBA’s most prolific technical foul recipient; he has registered double-digits in that category the past four seasons, including 15 technicals last season.

“I was very happy,” Green told reporters, including Mark Medina of the Mercury News. “A little breathing room. Just a little bit, though.”

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Ivica Zubac has not been assigned a larger role with the Lakers this season, which was expected as he entered his sophomore season. However, now that he is slowly creeping back into Lakers’ rotation, he feels much better on the court, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. “This is what I’ve been doing for my whole life,” Zubac said. “When you’re not playing you’re not feeling good because this is what I’m doing my whole life. Now, when I’m finally in the rotation, everything else feels much better.”
  • After a strong season with the Suns in 2016/17, injuries have hampered Tyler Ulis this season. Despite his optimism, he seems to be falling out of the team’s rotation, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes. “That’s something I can’t control so I don’t think about stuff like that,” Ulis said. “I’ve been doing this all my life. There’s not many people my size in the NBA so obviously I have the game to make it here and I have the game to stick.”
  • Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports answers several questions surrounding the Suns’ draft plans and oft-injured guard Brandon Knight. A source tells Bordow that getting a healthy Knight back from reconstructive knee surgery would be comparable to adding a first-round pick. Knight has been a solid player for Phoenix, averaging nearly 20.0 PPG in his last healthy season, so getting him back to 100% could affect the team’s draft plans.
  • As the Kings head for another losing season, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee looks at five of the team’s young players, including De’Aaron Fox, examining how they can benefit for the rest of the season.