Ivica Zubac shows sense of humor over Jerami Grant dunking on him

LAS VEGAS — The crowd went abuzz over Ivica Zubac, and this time the roars had nothing to do with his blocks or his infectious energy. Instead, the Lakers’ rookie center experienced his first rude awakening in the NBA after Bosian-born 19-year-old played overseas in Croatia.

Philadelphia forward Jerami Grant drove baseline and leaped over the 7-foot-1, 240-pound center in the Lakers’ eventual 70-69 victory over the Sixers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center. The act did not just put Zubac on his first poster. Grant also made the incident extra humiliating after curling his right leg over Zubac’s head to avoid any contact.

“We don’t have that in Europe. I thought he was going to make a pump fake,” Zubac said. “I didn’t jump. Then he jumped on me.”

A reporter then informed Zubac that his Wikipedia entry indicated that he “died” from the experience.

“I did a little bit,” Zubac said.
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Ivica Zubac earns both praise and a new nickname in Lakers’ Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS — The crowd roared into a frenzy as they saw how those long and outstretched arms performed something magical.

Only eight minutes into his first NBA Summer League game, 19-year-old Bosnian born center Ivica Zubac threw out his arm to swat a shot. Six seconds later, Zubac did the exact same thing.

Lakers fans may have never heard of the 7-foot-1, 240-pound rookie center until the Lakers drafted him No. 32 overall nearly two weeks ago. But it did not take long for them to fall in love with him during the Lakers’ 85-65 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in Summer League play on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. So much that as Zubac collected 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting, five rebounds and three blocks, several of the fans chanted “Zu Block.”

Apparently, that is a nickname Zubac both endorsed and already had.

“My old teammates gave me that nickname,” Zubac said. “When I separated ways from them, that nickname was forgotten.”

Still, it wasn’t clear if Zubac said “Zu Block” or “Zu Blocka.” Either way, more clarity on his nickname could emerge when the Lakers play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center.

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. had already likened Zubac to former NBA blocking specialist Dikembe Mutombo. Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell already referred to Zubac as “Big Z” and compared him to Memphis center Marc Gasol. Lakers summer league coach Jesse Mermuys affectionately called Zubac “the big fella.”

“A big fella with some sweetness to him,” Russell clarified. “He’s really good. I don’t think people know how good he is yet.”

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Marcelo Huertas says he’s returning to Lakers for two more years

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, center, moves the ball while Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass, left, and guard Marcelo Huertas, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 6, 2016. The Los Angeles Lakers won 112-95. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, center, moves the ball while Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass, left, and guard Marcelo Huertas, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 6, 2016. The Los Angeles Lakers won 112-95. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

The Lakers made another move by adding more backcourt depth. Reserve guard Marcelo Huertas revealed on his Instagram account that he has agreed to return to the Lakers on a two-year deal

“Purple and gold for 2 more years!” Huertas said. “Couldn’t be happier to stay with this organization and people that have welcomed me so well last season! Looking forward to it!”

It is not immediately clear what the terms of Huertas’ contract. The Lakers did not confirm the deal. But Huertas’ presumed return will entail competing with reserve guard Jose Calderon for minutes behind second-year guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers acquired Calderon from Chicago on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Huertas played in his first NBA season in the 2015-16 season after having a 14-year career in South America and Europe. Huertas averaged 4.5 points and 3.4 assists, and often received praise for running a team-oriented offense and his hustle.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Nick Young won’t face disciplinary action from Lakers for fireworks stunt

The Lakers had hoped the fireworks would blow up anytime after Nick Young went on a scoring outburst.

But after spending the past two seasons launching plenty of duds, Young set off his own fireworks with an ending that would hardly leave anyone celebrating. As first reported and shown in the video above by TMZ, Young picked up a lit firework during a party on the 4th of July holiday only for it to blow up in his face.

Young did not get hurt. The Lakers also do not plan to hurt him with any disciplinary action after putting himself in physical danger.

“You would hope that things like that don’t happen,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after summer league practice on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. “Professional athletes kind of need their hands. But I’m glad he’s okay.”
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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram deferential on role

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Brandon Ingram talks about his feelings coming to Lakers franchise. Photo By  Robert Casillas / SCNG

Lakers press conference to introduce 2016 draft picks Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac at practice facility in El Segundo Tuesday July 5, 2016. Brandon Ingram talks about his feelings coming to Lakers franchise.
Photo By Robert Casillas / SCNG

The expectations for Brandon Ingram seemingly increase by the day.

The Lakers drafted him with their No. 2 pick. Ingram’s versatility, long wingspan and rail-thin frame elicited comparisons to Kevin Durant. And Ingram learned on Tuesday that he will have Kobe Bryant’s vacated locker at the Lakers’ practice facility.

But that does not necessarily secure Ingram as the Lakers’ definitive starter at small forward. The Lakers agreed to a four-year, $72 million with 12-year NBA veteran forward Luol Deng, who could assume that same position.

All of which prompted one question. Does it matter to Ingram if he starts or not?

“Of course, from my competitive side,” Ingram said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ introductory press conference. “But if I have to be a reserve, I’ll be coachable enough to do whatever the coach tells me to do.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton has said he considered Ingram the top choice after winning the ACC’s Freshman of the Year award during his lone season at Duke. Walton also has praised Ingram’s defense, outside shooting and ability to play multiple positions.

That also explains why the Lakers pursued Deng, who has averaged 15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his 12-year NBA career with stints with the Chicago Bulls (2004-14), Cleveland Cavaliers (2014) and Miami Heat (2014-16). Deng also has cemented a league-wide reputation as a positive locker room influence and willing mentor. It also seems natural Ingram and Deng could hit it off after both starring at Duke.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but I plan to pick his brain on different things,” Ingram said. “He’s been in this league for a very long time. I hear nothing but good things about him. At practice, I plan to compete against him every single day. It’s up to the coaches on who starts. But of course, I’m going to compete against him every day.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA free agency: Tarik Black reportedly agrees to two-year, $12.85 million deal with Lakers

Tarik Black reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12.85 million deal to stay with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Tarik Black reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12.85 million deal to stay with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Lakers do not want to distance themselves entirely from a team that finished with the worst record in the franchise’s history.

The Lakers agreed to retain backup forward/center Tarik Black on a two-year deal worth $12.85 million, according to The Vertical. Black appeared to confirm the news by posting the tweet below of a Lakers hat.

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NBA free agency: Lakers, Luol Deng agree to four-year, $72 million deal

The Lakers landed an established veteran that could inject both talent and leadership to complement their young roster.

The Lakers and Luol Deng agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal, according to league sources. Deng had extensive conversations with other NBA teams, including the Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz. Deng also had a meeting with the Jazz on Friday, sources said.

But Deng likes the Lakers young players, including D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. Deng also talked with Lakers coach Luke Walton and was “pleased with the conversation,” sources said. Deng also liked the Lakers consistently stayed in touch after reaching out shortly after free agency began on Thursday at 9:01 p.m. PT.

The Lakers did not establish whether Deng would be a starter or a reserve. But he is expected to play a significant role after averaging 15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his 12-year NBA career with stints with the Chicago Bulls (2004-14), Cleveland Cavaliers (2014) and Miami Heat (2014-16). Deng has cemented a strong reputation around the NBA as both a versatile forward and positive locker room influence.


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NBA free agency: Lakers interested in Ryan Anderson

The Lakers expressed interest on Thursday in New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

The Lakers expressed interest on Thursday in New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson. Photo by Steve McCrank/Staff Photographer

New Orleans power forward Ryan Anderson left the Beverly Wilshire on Friday afternoon after having a meeting with the Toronto Raptors. The location seemed fitting considering the Lakers are interested in Anderson, too.

Last season, Anderson averaged 16.5 points off the bench (ranked second among reserves) and made 36.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. The 6-foot-10 Anderson would also give the Lakers added versatility to take advantage of the modern NBA that Lakers coach Luke Walton hopes to implement from his time with the Golden State Warriors.

Anderson will likely command a max contract after making $17 million last season. Although the Lakers have enough money to sign two max players, it is not currently clear how much they would pay Anderson. Should Anderson land with the Lakers, it would become an easy transition considering he recently bought a house in Hermosa Beach, sources said.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Luke Walton fills out some of his coaching staff

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Lakers coach Luke Walton has already become acclimated with his new position just over one week into the job.

Some clarity has emerged on Walton’s coaching staff, with the Lakers officially announcing Brian Shaw as an associate head coach and Jesse Mermuys as an assistant coach. The Lakers also announced Mark Madsen will be retained as an assistant coach.
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NBA free agency: Lakers agree to deal with Jordan Clarkson

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson recently received a qualifying offer from the Lakers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson recently received a qualifying offer from the Lakers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The Lakers may have struck out on landing a marquee free agent. But they managed to keep one of their rising stars from leaving.

The Lakers and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson agreed to a four-year deal worth $50 million, according to league sources. The deal cannot be signed until the NBA moratorium ends on July 7.
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