Lakers, not Clippers, initiated Ivica Zubac trade talks at deadline

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded Ivica Zubac to the Los Angeles Clippers for Mike Muscala, it was a huge surprise.

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We previously wrote that it seemed like the Lakers sold too low on Zubac. Now, a new report that details how this trade came together makes Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka look even worse.

According to Dave McMenamin, the Lakers’ front office offered the big man without any prompting or inquiry from their crosstown rivals (via ESPN):

“Shortly after the trade deadline, Clippers consultant Jerry West — who spent more than 40 years with the Lakers as a player, coach and executive — got together for dinner with old friends who also had former Laker ties, sources said. He couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap. The Clippers, sources said, never even called the Lakers to inquire about Zubac. The Lakers made the offer and the Clippers gladly accepted.”

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Since landing with the Clippers, the 22-year-old has a defensive rebound rate of 25.7 percent. That ranks in the 91st percentile among all players at his position, per Cleaning the Glass. In fact, he ranks Top 10 in total rebound percentage (minimum: 15 minutes per game) since the trade deadline.

He is playing a career-high 19.8 minutes per game while averaging more points (9.0), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (0.9) than ever before as well. As a 22-year-old, he still has plenty of room to develop his game and become an even more efficient scorer too.

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Zubac stands at 7-foot-1 and has been an incredible defensive stopper with the Clippers. He ranks ahead of other bigs like Andre Drummond, Steven Adams and Clint Capela in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus metric.

Additionally, the Clippers have outscored opponents by 3.0 points per 100 possessions when Zubac has been on the floor. That rate has increased to a net rating of 11.2 when he is joined by Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley. At his young age, he fits in well with their trajectory and he was clearly a fantastic addition for L.A.

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