Ivica Zubac will return to the Clippers on a four-year contract worth $28 million, a person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter confirmed Saturday.
The Clippers acquired the center and Michael Beasley in a February trade with the Lakers, but while Beasley was waived quickly, Zubac was immediately embraced and called an upgrade at center from his first game. Zubac became the starter and the team’s hope was to make him a mainstay of its rotation long-term.
Eight days after making Zubac a restricted free agent, they agreed to new terms with the 22-year-old, who averaged 9.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 20.2 minutes in 26 regular-season games with the Clippers.
Zubac saw his starting role disappear during a first-round playoff appearance against Golden State, but the team remained high on his potential.
Zubac will return to a roster that looks far different from the one he joined at the trade deadline.
Twelve hours before Zubac agreed to terms with the team, the Clippers added NBA Finals most valuable player and top free agent Kawhi Leonard and also traded for Paul George, who received the third-most votes for regular-season MVP while playing for Oklahoma City.
Zubac is the second Clippers restricted free agent who will rejoin the team on a new deal. Guard Rodney McGruder agreed to a three-year deal worth $15 million on July 2.
The Clippers can exceed the salary cap to sign both because they owned McGruder’s early Bird rights, and Zubac’s Bird rights.