Jordan Clarkson Says ‘Baby Lakers’ Would Have Never Won Title For L.A.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers waited for a long decade to return to the top after they claimed the 2010 NBA championship. However, the franchise wasn’t in a helpless state for the entirety of that time.

In 2014, L.A. started recruiting talented prospects through the NBA Draft, putting together a group that would eventually be heralded the “Baby Lakers.” That year, the Purple and Gold selected Julius Randle with the No. 7 overall pick and Jordan Clarkson in the second round, before drafting D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma in the following years.

L.A. eventually cashed in on the Baby Lakers, bringing in Anthony Davis to pair him with LeBron James in 2019 — with only Kuzma remaining with the team that celebrated an NBA title in the James-Davis duo’s first season. However, Clarkson has told Complex’s Mike DeStefano he doesn’t hold a grudge as he understands that trades are part of an NBA player’s career:

“I don’t think it ever was going to work with all of us being there. [Laughs.] I think we all were stars in our own right. Us separating and going into our home lanes was a good change of scenery for everybody. I see the tweets and all that stuff. It’s so funny to look back on it. I think the Lakers did a great job of scouting us, finding the talent, and giving us the opportunity by drafting us. But us all being on the same team, I don’t think it ever would’ve worked out. We probably wouldn’t have brought a championship back to them or none of that, you know what I mean? They got LeBron for us, whatever it is. It’s part of the game. All of us were stars in our own roles. We had to get a change of scenery to let us grow in other ways.”

Clarkson was the first of the group to leave the Lakers, moving to the Cleveland Cavaliers together with Nance during the 2017-18 season as part of the Isaiah Thomas trade.

Now in his 30s, the Missouri alum has spent the last three seasons on the Utah Jazz, enjoying the best years of his career. In 2020-21, Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 points per game and scooped the Sixth Man of the Year award, helping Utah become one of the league’s best offenses.

Lakers targeted Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic & Malik Beasley in recent Russell Westbrook trade talks with Jazz

Over the last few weeks, reports have been mentioning a potential Clarkson-Lakers reunion in 2022-23. L.A. is understood to have talked about a Russell Westbrook trade with the Jazz, discussing a deal that would send the shooting guard back to his first NBA team.

Bojan Bogdanovic and Malik Beasley reportedly were the other two players the Lakers would acquire in exchange for Westbrook and draft compensation.

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