Jordan Clarkson wants to stay in LA as Lakers rebuild
MANILA, Philippines – Fil-Am NBA guard Jordan Clarkson is set to become a restricted NBA free agent, and after his impressive season, it’s likely he’s about to receive a big pay day that comes with a longer contract.
But for Clarkson, his preference is to stay in Los Angeles with the Lakers, even if he admits the power is on their side.
“I want to stay in LA, for sure,” he told the media on Saturday, May 28 at the Kerry Gym in Shangri-La at the Fort. “I hope that happens and I hope they want to keep me.”
Clarkson, 23, was selected in the second round by the Washington Wizards of the 2014 NBA Draft and was traded right away to the Lakers. In the 2015-2016 NBA regular season - his sophomore campaign - he played 79 games and averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game.
After making only $1.35 million in his first two years, Clarkson could receive an offer up to $57.8 million for 4 years. Since he is a restricted free agent, the Lakers can match any contract their young stud receives during free agency, making sure Clarkson remains in a Lakers uniform.
The former University of Missouri player emphasized that he wants to be part of Los Angeles’ rebuilding effort back to title contention, but it also depends on how much the franchise wants to keep him.
“That’s kind of what it is at the end of the day. Kind of the ball’s in their court, really when it comes to that. I definitely want to stay in LA though and be a part of this time, this rebuilding time. [A] fresh start,” he said.
The Lakers recently hired a new head coach, Luke Walton, who in this NBA season was an assistant for the 73-9 Golden State Warriors and helped steer that team to a 24-0 start while head coach Steve Kerr recuperated from a spinal fluid leak.
Clarkson says he’s already chatted with Walton, a former Lakers player himself.
“He called me a few days after he got hired, talked to me about what he wants to see out of us, the system and how he sees us fitting in. That’s about it, really.”
Clarkson is part of a young and impressive Lakers nucleus that’s also built around Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell.
His little brother
The 20-year-old Russell, who the Lakers selected number two in the 2015 NBA Draft, got off to a slow start before finishing the season with averages of 13.2 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.4 rebounds a game - good enough for him to be named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team.
Russell was also responsible for a rift in the Lakers locker room this season when he violated the Bro Code by secretly filming teammate Nick Young talking about women other than his fiancee, Iggy Azalea.
But despite that, Russell has shown the potential to become a household name in the NBA someday. It also works well for the Lakers that both him and Clarkson have established a good relationship.
“D’Angelo’s like my little brother, man,” said Clarkson. “That’s one of my best friends on the team. I’m there with him through everything, so I talk to him still. I’m actually going to meet him, going to Beijing.
“He lives around the corner from me, so we spend a lot of time together. He’s definitely one of my closest teammates,” said Clarkson.
The presence of Clarkson, if he’s signed, Russell and Randle make the Lakers a tempting choice for free agents, not to mention the championship history of the franchise.
“We got a new coach, we got a new system. We’re kinda starting brand new and if any free agent wants to come here, there’s a lot that comes with it,” said Clarkson.
“It’s LA, it’s Los Angeles. So if you want to come here and be a part of that, be a part of history, then so be it.” – Rappler.com