The Lakers might see rookie Ivica Zubac as their eventual starting center. But they also want to maximize his playing time.
So a day after scoring 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the Lakers’ 122-110 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, Zubac will play for the team’s Development League affiliate on Friday against the Reno Bighorns at the team’s practice facility.
“He was so good we’re going to send him down to the D-League [Friday] to get some more playing time,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after Thursday’s win. “That was his best game we’ve had in a while as far as being engaged, playing hard, making the right reads out there, making jump shots or setting hard screens. He had a good all-around effort.”
It was not immediately clear if Walton was serious or joking. Zubac was unaware of the news when a reported informed him about Friday’s assignment with the D-Fenders. The D-Fenders’ game coincides with a day off on Friday, while the Lakers introduce general manager Rob Pelinka.
The Lakers (20-45) are expected to recall Zubac in time to practice on Saturday and to play in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers (23-41) at Staples Center.
“Whatever Coach wants from me and whatever role he has for me, I’m okay with that,” Zubac said in general terms. “Everybody wants to play more minutes. I would be good with playing more minutes.”
Zubac missed the previous two games because of a bruised quad, an injury he said has since healed.