Among the Los Angeles Lakers’ young core, the one who has shown the most at the NBA level so far has been second-year guard Jordan Clarkson. While Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell have been more flashes of potential at this stage, Clarkson has already shown what he can do, ranking second on the team in scoring last season.
As a second-round pick in 2014, Clarkson signed only a two-year deal, making him a restricted free agent this summer. It is widely assumed that Clarkson will be retained by the Lakers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t outside interest in him.
According to Ian Begley of ESPN, the New York Knicks are interested in signing Clarkson, though he also concedes that the Lakers are likely to keep him:
Restricted Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson also has fans in the Knicks organization, but it seems as if Los Angeles will retain the second-year player.
The Knicks have a huge hole at the point guard position, and Clarkson would be a great young piece for them to add, but it is basically a certainty that he will return to Los Angeles.
The Lakers have every advantage in retaining Clarkson this summer. They can match any offer since he is a restricted free agent. Clarkson also falls under the ‘Arenas Rule’ provision meaning that his first-year salary (for any contract offered by another team) can’t exceed the mid-level exception. In other words, if Clarkson weren’t to return to the Lakers it’s because they don’t want him, and that is not the case.
Likewise, Clarkson wants to return to the Lakers as he and the rest of the young core have sounded very excited about playing under new head coach Luke Walton. With Clarkson, Randle, Russell, Larry Nance Jr., and the second overall pick (likely Brandon Ingram) the Lakers have one of the most talented young cores in the NBA and promising young head coach to boot. Things are beginning to look up for the Lakers.