The Los Angeles Lakers made a brilliant decision two years ago when they bought the 46th pick in the NBA draft from the Washington Wizards and used it to select guard Jordan Clarkson. After a stellar first season, Clarkson was named to the first-team all-rookie squad, an impressive accomplishment for someone who wasn’t considered to be a top prospect in a very talented draft.
Clarkson followed up that performance with a solid sophomore campaign, successfully playing off the ball alongside D’Angelo Russell. Now, as a restricted free agent this summer, the Lakers hope to retain his services. In a recent interview with Time-Warner Cable’s Chris McGee, Clarkson explained that the feeling is mutual:
I want to stay in LA….I don’t really look at it as me being a free agent; I want to be here.
Clarkson has developed a reputation as a hard worker and has stated that he is continuing to work on improving his accuracy from three-point land. He made major strides in that area between his rookie and sophomore years, raising his average from 31 percent to 35 percent.
Increasing his accuracy will help Clarkson in new coach Luke Walton’s offense, where spacing and shooting will be prioritized. Clarkson had this to say about playing for Walton:
He (Luke) called me a few days after he got hired. We talked about the offensive system, what he sees in us young guys, where he sees the organization, the style we’re gonna play. I’m excited for him to come and work with us.
As a restricted free agent, the Lakers will have the right to match any offer that Clarkson receives this summer. The team has stated their intention to retain their prized young guard, so the likelihood of him winding up elsewhere is very slim.
Clarkson has been on a very team-friendly contract during his tenure in the NBA, but while he will get a substantial pay increase this summer, he should continue to be a great value thanks to the Gilbert Arenas rule. Should he sign with another team and the Lakers match the deal, his salary will be capped at just the mid-level exception for the first two years, followed by a potentially massive increase in year three. For a Lakers team hoping to sign major free agents over the next few years, this type of deal could be beneficial.
Of course, the Lakers can also use cap space to simply sign Clarkson to a contract of their (and his) choosing. Regardless of which route they go, it appears that Jordan Clarkson will be staying in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.