Clippers sign Ivica Zuba to three-year, $33M contract extension

Clippers center Ivica Zubac

Remember when the Lakers traded a young Ivica Zubac to clear a roster spot and get 17 games of Mike Muscala down the stretch of a season Los Angeles would miss the playoffs, anyway?

That 2019 deal — with the loathed cross-arena Clippers, no less — continues to haunt the Lakers.

Zubac has developed into a legitimate starting center, and the Clippers will pay him like one.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This looks like a fair salary for the 25-year-old. Maybe a slight overpay because the Clippers declined his cheaper team option, giving Zubac a raise sooner than necessary. But with owner Steve Ballmer willing to spend big, L.A. can pay a premium to ensure Zubac doesn’t hit free agency next year. There’s value in securing the center.

Zubac is a solid interior defender who scores efficiently in a limited offensive role. He looks content executing his assignments — helpful on a team that has stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to handle larger loads.

Given his limitations, Zubac won’t always finish games. That’s a reason he’s not drawing a higher salary and a reason the Clippers already extended Robert Covington, a more-versatile frontcourt player.

Now, the Clippers can turn their attention to finding Zubac’s primary backup. With John Wall seemingly taking L.A.’s mid-level exception, the Clippers might not be able to afford Isaiah Hartenstein with just the Non-Bird Exception (120% of the minimum salary). The Knicks’ Nerlens Noel looks like an option.