After more than a week of Anthony Davis speculation leading up to the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers instead made two minor moves. The more baffling one was trading Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley to the Clippers for Mike Muscala.
It was a deal that no one saw coming, not even Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. The Lakers made the trade in order to acquire some shooting and get themselves an open roster spot.
It can also be presumed they may not have planned on re-signing Zubac this offseason. However, while Zubac was an integral part of talks for Davis, his trade to the Clippers was rather surprising.
Rivers was not only surprised by the trade, he was shocked at just the thought that the Clippers could get Zubac upon being informed of the possibility by president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, via Clevis Murray of The Athletic:
Rivers’ response to Lawrence Frank when he learned the Clippers could acquire Ivica Zubac: “Wake up, no way. That’s not gonna happen.”
— Clevis Murray (@ClevisMurray) February 10, 2019
Before this season, many criticized the Lakers for keeping Zubac instead of promising second-year player Thomas Bryant. However, Zubac responded with a career year, and in the two months leading up to the trade deadline, he was the Lakers best big man, surpassing JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler on the depth chart.
Since his departure, the Lakers have struggled mightily with interior defense when McGee is on the floor and have generated virtually no interior offense when Chandler is on the floor. Zubac was a nice blend of both.
Of course, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka likely had longer term visions in regard to this trade, but the immediate effects have been noticeable.
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