Mitch Kupchak Rumors
The Lakers considered adding a frontcourt player to absorb the absence of reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. who has stayed sidelined the past two weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee. But Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak told Southern California News Group that he would have likely felt more inclined to make a roster change had Nance suffered a season-ending injury. The Lakers expect Nance to return in about two weeks.
After securing the Croatian center from the Serbian League with the Lakers’ 32nd draft pick last summer, Kupchak has fallen in love with Zubac’s 7-foot-1 frame and his touch with the basketball. “His skill level for someone who hasn’t played much is pretty high,” Kupchak said. “His jump hooks, ability to shoot the ball and make free throws, understanding the game and passing, I think it’s beyond his years.”
The Lakers do not feel confident enough to grant Zubac significant playing time just yet. Kupchak and Karl observed that Zubac has faced hiccups adapting to a faster-paced game than what he experienced in the Serbian League, both in the NBA and D-League. Carl added the Lakers and D-Fenders also want Zubac to improve on his defensive consistency in the post and on pick-and-rolls as well as spacing the floor correctly. “Everybody has their point of view,” Zubac said. “But I feel like I can play.”
The NBA’s trade deadline is February 23, but Kupchak and the Lakers may not be looking for a blockbuster deal to reshape the team. “We’re fun to watch. We’re very competitive. We love our coaching staff. We love our young players. We’re going to have to be a little patient,” Kupchak said. “We’re going to have to do our job, which is to look at opportunities that may come up in the next month or two. And if there are none—which is fine with me, because I like the young guys on the team—then during the offseason, we’ll have to look at opportunities.”