Ivica Zubac was almost in bed for his customary pregame nap Thursday when Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka informed the 7-foot center he’d been traded.
Zubac was “surprised” but “super excited” about being dealt to the Clippers — and how little of a disruption it would cause him.
Not only will Zubac not have to look for a new apartment in a new city, he changed teams without even having to change hotel rooms. Hours after the trade deadline passed, the Clippers flew to Boston following a game in Indiana and stayed at the same downtown hotel as the Lakers.
Zubac had spent Thursday night watching his old teammates play Boston and his new ones playing the Pacers.
“I didn’t have anything else to do,” Zubac said. “I don’t really know any people from Boston. I was in my room the whole day.”
For the Clippers’ sake, they can only hope the transitions of their other recent acquisitions are as smooth as Zubac’s.
Rookie guard Landry Shamet, acquired from Philadelphia along with forward Wilson Chandler, joked that he hoped his assimilation would be “a one-day thing.”
“I’m not going to try to put any timetable on it,” Shamet said. “I think it’s going to be a natural process.”
Garrett Temple, who arrived from Memphis along with forward JaMychal Green, is familiar with quickly learning a system after signing nine 10-day contracts during his nine-year career. Digesting a new team’s terminology offensively and defensively is the first, and most important, step. What one defense calls “blue,” another might describe the same concept using “ice.”
For veterans who have experience with multiple teams, one Clippers coach said, getting up to speed is less like learning a new language and more about studying a new dialect.
“Basketball is what it is,” Temple said. “Offensively, it’s a pretty simple game, especially when you’ve got guys like Lou [Williams] and Montrezl [Harrell]. We should be good.”
Turning over a third of a roster can change the dynamic of a locker room in unforeseen ways, but several Clippers believe their new teammates should fit because all are considered “tough guys” who match the ethos established in September by players such as Patrick Beverley, Williams and Harrell.
“Our culture doesn’t change,” Beverley said.
Said Temple: “I definitely admired them from afar … that type of toughness."
The locker room holdovers “don’t want any guy that’s not really ready for warfare because for us to make it,” coach Doc Rivers said of chasing a playoff bid, “it’s going to be hard and we understand that.”
Rivers is surprised by trade with Lakers
Before the trade deadline, Rivers was surprised to learn Zubac was available and that the Clippers were talking with the Lakers.
It was the first trade between the franchises since 1983, when the Clippers — still in San Diego — sent the draft rights to Byron Scott to the Lakers in exchange for Norm Nixon, among others included in the deal. As Lakers general manager in 1983 and Clippers consultant now, Jerry West was involved in both transactions.
Rivers called the teams’ conversations in recent years one-sided.
“I didn’t know we were doing business again because we have tried and it just has been no conversations [with the Lakers],” Rivers said. “It was good they wanted conversations.”