Lakers To Sign Earl Clark

SATURDAY, 9:42am: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has filed for a disabled player exception for Henry, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News tweets. Los Angeles has also filed for a hardship exception that would allow the team to temporarily add a 16th player until Kelly returns from his hamstring injury, Medina adds. This could indicate that the Lakers are holding off on signing Clark until they are granted that hardship exception, and Henry might not necessarily be waived to accommodate the addition of Clark, though that is just my speculation.

WEDNESDAY, 3:08pm: The Lakers will sign forward Earl Clark, Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times reports. The deal will be a one-year, fully guaranteed pact, notes Bresnahan, and Los Angeles is likely to waive the injured Xavier Henry in order to open up the required roster spot for Clark. Shams Charania of RealGM had first reported the likelihood of the Lakers adding Clark earlier today, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports had then relayed that Clark’s deal would be for a pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum and would be fully guaranteed. These moves will still leave the Lakers with the league-maximum 15 players on their roster.

Clark’s arrival cannot come soon enough for a Lakers team that has been besieged by a rash of maladies. Steve Nash and Julius Randle were already lost with season-ending injuries when Henry went down in practice Monday with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Coupled with Ryan Kelly being out for at least another 4 weeks with a torn right hamstring, the Lakers were in dire need of frontcourt help, which Clark will be able to provide.

The 26-year-old Clark was averaging 28.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game in four appearances so far for the Rockets D-League affiliate this season. Houston briefly had him on its NBA roster after claiming his training camp deal off waivers from the Grizzlies, but the Rockets waived him before opening night. In 251 career NBA contests Clark has averaged 4.4 PPG and 3.0 RPG. His career slash line is .404/.331/.167.

If Henry is indeed waived, he’ll still receive the remainder of his $1.082MM fully guaranteed contract for 2014/15, Bresnahan adds. Henry is expected to recover in time for the start of 2015/16, and he was already set to become an unrestricted agent at the end of this season. It’s unclear how the injury will affect the market for his services next summer, but more than likely it will force Henry to accept a shorter deal than he would have desired in order to prove that he’s fully recovered from such a serious injury, though that is just my speculation.

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