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Lakers summon rookie center Ivica Zubac from Development League

Lakers summon rookie center Ivica Zubac from Development League
Lakers center Ivica Zubac is introduced as a member of the starting lineup before a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 2. (David Goldman / Associated Press)

Depleted by injuries, the Lakers called up rookie Ivica Zubac, a second-round draft pick, from his Development League assignment Monday.

Zubac averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in six games with the D-Fenders, getting playing time and experience he wouldn’t have had with the Lakers.

Lakers Coach Luke Walton "told me to work on my skyhook," Zubac said. "And he told me … in the future they see me as their center, so it's better to look at this year as adjustment year. And sometimes it's hard to get minutes for me, so it's better to get some run in the D-League. Most he wants is [for me] to stay in shape and work on my game."

Zubac, a 19-year-old from Bosnia-Herzegovina, was active for the Lakers against the Utah Jazz. He entered Monday having played in three games for the Lakers, with one start when center Timofey Mozgov was out with a left eye contusion. Walton started Zubac in that game so as to keep his second unit together with backup center Tarik Black (who suffered an ankle sprain Monday). 

Playing for the D-Fenders was familiar to Zubac both for the playing style and the coaching style.  Former NBA player Coby Karl is the coach of the Lakers’ Development League team.

Zubac saw similarities between Karl and Walton.

"You have feeling with both of them like they're your teammates," Zubac said. "That's definitely what every player likes to have, a coach that's gonna be like your teammate, who's gonna listen to you and listen to your suggestions."

Guards in flux

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Jose Calderon had an MRI exam Monday that confirmed the severity of his right hamstring strain. Calderon will be out for two to four weeks, the Lakers said.

Calderon had been starting in place of point guard D'Angelo Russell, who is out because of knee soreness.

Russell will be examined by a doctor Tuesday, about two weeks after he had a platelet-rich plasma injection to help heal his knee.

The Lakers also remained without starting shooting guard Nick Young, who will be out for another one to three weeks because of a right calf strain.

"It's important for the guys to know, though, that it's still just the game of basketball," Walton said. "We have talented players up and down our roster, and we should feel like we can win games no matter who's hurt. It's just going to be other people stepping up."

Backup coach

Jazz Coach Quin Snyder fell ill Monday and was unable to coach in the game. Assistant Igor Kokoskov stepped in for him.

"These kinds of little things can't distract us," Kokoskov said. "Obviously, Coach Snyder is a great coach and a dominant figure in our team. This is his team. Feel bad for Coach that he doesn't feel well. I don't think anybody can replace Coach Snyder. My job is just to support the team and be there for the guys to get ready for this game."

Kokoskov was named the head coach of the Slovenian national team in January, but  Monday's game was the first time he served as head coach for an NBA team.

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