EL SEGUNDO — The Lakers brought Timofey Mozgov here last summer on a lucrative four-year, $64 million with the promise he would become the team’s starting center.
That did not actually play out in real time. Lakers coach Luke Walton shut Mozgov down for the past two months for the sake of developing younger players. It did not help Mozgov averaged 7.4 points on 51.5 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds and could not elevate the Lakers out of the bottom of NBA in several defensive categories.
So it does not seem surprising Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka did not offer any assurances about Mozgov’s role next season Yet, Mozgov sounded optimistic his role will increase.
“I think it’ll change,” Mozgov said. “I have a feeling.”
Mozgov said he expects to become the starting center to open training camp. Though Lakers coach Luke Walton has said all players will open the 2017-18 season with a blank slate, it does not appear clear whether the Lakers will grant Mozgov’s wish.
Mozgov predicted “there’s going to be some changes this year” as the Lakers seek to upgrade their roster possibly the NBA draft and free agency. But Mozgov also pleased patience on Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac having an increased role.
“I don’t think Zu is ready to be starting,” Mozgov said. “I think it’s a different thing when you come in the league, you’re up and back and then in the starting lineup as opposed to going into the season in the starting lineup. It’s two different things.”
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