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Associated Press

Lakers’ rookie Ivica Zubac out for rest of season with high ankle sprain

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There is a list longer than the one Santa Claus uses of things Lakers fans can be frustrated with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak for in recent years. There is no sadness in Lakers’ nation that Jim Buss is out of power and Magic Johnson is in (even if there are questions about how Magic will do in the job).

One thing you can’t knock them for: finding good players deep in the draft. They got Larry Nance Jr. at 27 and he is a quality rotation player with an all around game.

Another find was Ivica Zubac, who they grabbed high in the second round last June. The second most popular young player out of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Jusuf Nurkic wins that award) has turned into a solid rotation player with some promise, averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds a game in 16 minutes this season. He provides a strong post presence, has a nice hook shot, and most importantly showed improvement over the course of the season… until now.

Zubac is done for the season with a sprained ankle, the team announced Friday. He suffered the injury in the first quarter against Minnesota Thursday. From the official press release.

Results of the X- rays were negative and the MRI confirmed a high ankle sprain in his right ankle. He will be out for the remainder of the season and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Lakers fans likely will be able to catch Zubac in Summer League in Las Vegas, he should be healthy by then.

Dallas’ Devin Harris fined $25,000 for “aggressively pursuing a game official”

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The Mavericks’ Devin Harris did not like referee Ben Taylor’s calls. To put it kindly. Taylor hit Harris with a foul after a collision with Pelicans’ guard Jordan Crawford — and Harris had a point, Crawford got his elbow up.

However, Harris argued so vehemently he got a couple quick technicals, and three teammates had to hold him back from going after Taylor.

That reaction earned Harris a $25,000 fine from the NBA for “aggressively pursuing a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection.” The league isn’t wrong about that, either.

Steve Nash on rest: “I was always tired in the playoffs, I could have needed the rest”

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Much to the chagrin of the NBA league office, there is as much talk about star players resting in the NBA as there is the looming playoffs or anything else around the league (save the MVP race). Fans are frustrated (as are broadcasters), old school players are ripping the younger generation, coaches and GMs are pointing to the injury/quality of play stats, and players are saying it’s part of the game now.

Former NBA MVP Steve Nash was on Sirius XM NBA Radio Friday morning, and honestly said he could have used the rest during his playing days.

Steve Nash’s career arc — where his body broke down quickly after seasons of heavy loads — is what the pro-rest proponents point to. The idea is fewer minutes and more rest can lead to longer, more productive careers.

Which is a valid point, but doesn’t alleviate the problem of fans feeling screwed over when they sit down to watch a big game on television — or pay a lot of money to see their favorite players in an arena — when those players are healthy but resting.

The one thing Nash is dead on about is that the issue is a tricky one. The NBA owners will be discussing the topic at their upcoming Board of Governor’s meeting, but what really has to happen is Adam Silver, representatives of the players’ union, teams, coaches, all need to sit down in a room and have a discussion. A compromise needs to be reached because the issue has become an embarrassment to the league.

How hot is Jusuf Nurkic fever in Portland? He’s got his own song (VIDEO)

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Jusuf Nurkic has changed Portland’s season.

Before trading for him from Denver at the deadline, Portland was out of the playoffs, not playing any defense, and their offense had been stale and predictable. Nurkic came in pumped to get a chance (he was understandably behind Nikola Jokic in Denver), he brought a presence in the paint on both ends that the Trail Blazers lacked, and the result is Portland has vaulted back into the postseason — right past Nurkic’s old team in Denver. Nurkic has averaged 15.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, and his play inside has opened the game up for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

How hot is Nurkic fever in Portland, not to mention his native Bosnia and Herzegovina?

So much so the band Dubioza kolektiv released a song, “Nurk Fever.”

Nurkic is now and forever the Bosnian Beast.

DeMarcus Cousins said Kings treated him like a “piece of cattle” through trade process

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It was the question that kept GMs considering a trade for DeMarcus Cousins up at night: How much of that dysfunctional relationship was Cousins’ fault, and how much was the Kings? Because as much as Cousins could be overly sensitive to criticism and a handful, the Kings handled everything around him about as poorly as they possibly could. Just revisit the George Karl situation in your mind.

Cousins has been hesitant to talk about his exit from the Kings at the trade deadline. However, with the Pelicans set to host the Kings, he sat down with Marc Spears of The Undefeated and was open about a lot of things. That includes his desire to stay in Sacramento to build something, of course, the $35 million (give or take) he lost out on with the trade, and how the Kings management treated him.

About that money…

It was never about the money. I don’t play this game for money. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t play for the money…. I wanted my legacy to end in Sacramento. I invested so much time and energy. Everything I had, my whole heart was into that city. Just for it to end the way it did, that was the part that was f—-. But it was never about the money. I don’t give a s— about the money.

The Kings didn’t tell him about the trade (he got out of the All-Star Game and heard the news), but would he feel differently if they had?

Of course, I would’ve been mad. But I still would have respected it. Come to me like a man. I’m a human being at the end of the day. Don’t treat me like a f—— piece of cattle.

Cousins goes on to talk about how much he loves playing with Anthony Davis, how much he feels loved in New Orleans, and how he likes being a couple of hours drive from his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. However, when asked about his free agency plans in the summer of 2018 — will the free agent re-sign with the Pelicans? — he was vague and said he’s not thinking about it yet. Which is what he should say, see how things play out for a year in New Orleans and then make a call.

It’s going to be an interesting summer leading into next season in New Orleans. Who will be coaching the team, still Alvin Gentry? Can they add some shooting around Davis, Cousins, and Jrue Holiday? Will Cousins and Davis mesh?

And through it all, we’ll get a better sense of how much the issues in Sacramento were on Cousins, and how much were on the Kings.