Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Bryant, Rush, Suns

Tonight’s game against the Rockets will trigger the starter criteria for the LakersJordan Clarkson and up the value of his qualifying offer, tweets former NBA executive Bobby Marks. This will mark Clarkson’s 41st start of the season and will increase the qualifying offer from about $1.1MM to $3.2MM. The change will take approximately $2MM off L.A.’s projected cap space for the summer, but it could still be more than $50MM (Twitter link). Clarkson will be a restricted free agent this summer, but will be subject to the Gilbert Arenas Provision, which limits the amount that other teams can offer to close to $57MM over four years.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Kobe Bryant‘s decision not to seek a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team prevented a potentially awkward situation, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. A two-time gold medalist and five-time NBA champion, Bryant is highly respected throughout the basketball world, but there’s no guarantee he would have earned one of the 12 spots for the Rio de Janeiro games, Zillgitt writes. “Since my retirement announcement, I’m able to watch these guys in a different light,” Bryant said Saturday. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that they are the future of this game. These are the guys who deserve the spots in Rio.”
  • Brandon Rush has fought back from two ACL tears to become a productive player for the Warriors, writes Matt Moore of The 30-year old, who will be a free agent this summer, is expanding his role with Golden State. “He’s got his confidence back,” said interim coach Luke Walton. “His shooting has been unbelievable, but he’s playing defense, he’s making plays. He’s rebounding the ball and pushing it, where last season he didn’t have the confidence to do that.”
  • The Suns are having one of their worst seasons ever, and Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic offers a historic reminder that a high draft pick isn’t necessarily a solution. He notes that the seven worst teams in Phoenix history have produced only one star through the draft, Alvan Adams in 1975.

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