The Los Angeles Clippers biggest need after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George was at center and boy did they pay a pretty penny for the position.
The Los Angeles Clippers instantly shot into the elite category of NBA teams by signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George. With two new stars on the roster and a defense that looks very scary to score against, the Clippers are the consensus favorites to win it all next season.
The first need for the team after bringing in Leonard and George was at the center position. The only player on the roster that could play center was Montrezl Harrell, and while he is still slated to play the bulk of his minutes at center, he is better as a power forward.
With not a lot of options left on the market, the Clippers re-signed restricted free agent Ivica Zubac. Zubac was acquired in a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers last year for virtually nothing and is now the starting center on a title-contending team.
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The Clippers re-signing Zubac was not surprising whatsoever with the team’s need at the center position. What was surprising was the terms that the two sides agreed upon in the contract.
The Clippers re-signed Zubac for four years, which is great, but surprisingly are paying him $28 million. That might not seem like a lot in today’s NBA, but it definitely is more than Zubac is worth right now in his career.
And perhaps the Clippers are hoping that he progresses even more and that in two years $7 million a year will seem like an absolute bargain, which is possible.
However, right now, he is an unproven, young center that has had some impressive showing at times but has still not played like someone that you would pay $7 million for.
Last season Zubac averaged 8.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and averaged 9.4 points and 7.7 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Clippers. He started 25 of the 26 games he played for the Clippers and scored in double-digits 12 times, one of those times being a 22-point game to end the season.
Zubac was not all that impressive in the playoffs, though. Despite having a size advantage over the Golden State Warriors, he had such a minuscule impact as he even did not play two games due to coaches decision.
He did score 18 of his 20 playoff points in game 3, although he only received that much playing time as it was a 27-point blowout win for the Warriors. Aside from game 3, Zubac played just over 20 combined minutes, scoring two points and grabbing seven boards.
He was not in Doc Rivers‘ gameplan against the Warriors and it showed that Zubac is still green and still needs to prove himself.
Acquiring via trade for practically nothing was extremely smart; paying him $28 million to be the starting center when he hasn’t yet proven that he can be a starting center on a playoff team is a questionable move.
Of course, we hope it works out for the better as Zubac is fun to watch. Good for him for getting a payday as the Los Angeles Clippers definitely did overpay.