Jordan Clarkson

Woj’s Latest: Pistons, Fournier, Lakers, Hawks

Shooting guards and small forwards are in high demand as the trade deadline approaches, and there simply aren’t that many quality wings expected to be available, Adrian Wojnarowski writes in his latest report for ESPN.com. As Wojnarowski details, the Pistons, Knicks, Pelicans, and Trail Blazers are just a few of the many teams looking for upgrades on the wing.

DeMarre Carroll (Nets), Alec Burks (Jazz), Kent Bazemore (Hawks), and Evan Fournier (Magic) are among the veterans attracting some interest on the trade market, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that the Pistons pursued a deal for Fournier. Such a trade would be hard to pull off without including Reggie Jackson‘s contract, so nothing’s imminent at this point, but the Pistons continue to be aggressive on the trade market, a reflection of Stan Van Gundy‘s desire to win now, says Wojnarowski.

As for the Pelicans, they also remain active in trade talks despite their limited assets, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have negative value and won’t be movable without New Orleans attaching a draft pick or two. If the Pelicans can’t trade for a wing, they’ll have to count on getting Solomon Hill back healthy for the home stretch of the season.

Here’s more from Woj:

  • The Lakers have “made it clear” that Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. are available in trades, reports Wojnarowski. The club had been planning on waiting until after the season to try to move Clarkson, but there may be a mutual desire to get something done on that front sooner rather than later.
  • Bazemore, Ersan Ilyasova, and Marco Belinelli are expendable in Atlanta, where the Hawks are focused on unloading veterans and stockpiling more young players and draft picks, per Wojnarowski.
  • The Bulls still plan to trade Nikola Mirotic after January 15, assuming he OK’s a deal. According to Wojnarowski, Mirotic is somewhat intrigued by the Jazz and their head coach Quin Snyder, who has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent.
  • It’s possible their outlooks could change by the trade deadline, but the Thunder and Pelicans currently have no plans to trade Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins, respectively. Both players can become unrestricted free agents this July.
  • We passed along more rumors from Woj in full stories earlier today, providing the latest on DeAndre Jordan and examining the Grizzliesasking price for Tyreke Evans.

L.A. Notes: Clarkson, Randle, Ball, Rivers

Lakers teammates Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are taking different approaches to being the subject of trade rumors, relays Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. She describes Clarkson’s attitude as “freewheeling,” as he is having fun with the season and trying not to let off-court distractions affect his performance. His playing time has dropped to a career-low 23.3 minutes per game, but he has remained productive, averaging 14.4 points and 3.2 assists. Randle is naturally more intense and is limited because his inside game doesn’t mesh well with the Lakers’ approach. As a result, his minutes can vary wildly from game to game depending on the opponent.

Clarkson is under contract for two more seasons (at $12.5MM next year and $13.4375MM for 2019/20), so his fate is entirely up to the team. Randle will be a restricted free agent in July and needs to perform well to maximize his value. The Lakers would reportedly like to unload both players as part of their plan to offer two max contracts in free agency.

There’s more today from Los Angeles:
  • Lonzo Ball is recovering quickly from the shoulder sprain he suffered last week, and the Lakers are thinking about taking him on their next road trip, Ganguli writes in a separate story. L.A. plays back-to-back games Sunday in Houston and Monday in Minnesota, and coach Luke Walton is concerned that the rigors of travel might be detrimental to Ball’s health. “His shoulder’s feeling better,” Walton said. “It’s something we’re just going to keep treating and if he feels good enough to go, we’ll get him on the court for shooting, after that we’ll get him to practice and then we’ll get him back on the court.”
  • An MRI on Austin Rivers‘ strained Achilles tendon injury was negative, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. The Clippers guard, who had to be helped off the court Friday night, will be listed as day to day.
  • Clippers rookie Jawun Evans may have started a league-wide trend with his tight defense on Rockets star James Harden, writes Elliott Teaford of The Orange County Register. Evans forced Harden into multiple offensive fouls in a game last week, and subsequent opponents have followed his approach. Evans didn’t expect to be a trend setter or even play much in a talented L.A. backcourt, but injuries to Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic have provided an opportunity. “I’m relaxed, but I still don’t feel like I’m in the league,” he said. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. I’m blessed to be here. I’m just taking advantage of every moment. 

Lakers Believe They Can Trade Jordan Clarkson

The Lakers are confident they can unload Jordan Clarkson at some point to help with their pursuit of free agents next summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on the network’s Full Court Press special.

L.A. reportedly wants to be able to offer a pair of max contracts in July, with LeBron James and Paul George considered to be prime targets. To make that possible the team has to trim salaries, including Clarkson, who has two seasons left on the four-year, $50MM contract he signed in the summer of 2016. He will make $12.5MM next season and $13.4375MM in 2019/20.

“They believe they can trade Jordan Clarkson and get his money off,” Wojnarowski said. “They prefer not to do it at the trade deadline. Clarkson has helped them win games this year, and because they don’t have their pick, they want to win as many games as they can. So I think there’s some confidence there that they can find a deal for Clarkson after the season, to get his money off. But there’s got to be a sequencing here. And it gets back to, are they going to chase one max-salary slot, or two?”

A former starter, the fourth-year guard has adjusted to a reserve role over the past two seasons and has remained productive. He is averaging 13.8 points through 30 games and shooting a career-best 46% from the field.

To open two full-max slots, the Lakers will also have to get rid of Luol Deng, who has only appeared in one game this season and is owed $36.81MM over the next two years, along with Julius Randle, who will have a cap hold of roughly $12.5MM. L.A. may decide to stretch Deng’s contract after this season, which would make it count $7.362MM against the cap for each of the next five years.

Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Booker, Warriors

After seeing close friends like D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams traded by the Lakers during the offseason, Jordan Clarkson says he has grown accustomed to the business side of the NBA, as Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times details. As for the trade rumors that have swirled around him this year, Clarkson isn’t ignoring them, but he’s also not letting them negatively impact him.

“To me it’s motivation,” the Lakers guard said of those trade rumors. “It’s a business, you’re either going to be here or you ain’t. Wherever I am, I want to be productive.”

Clarkson’s name hasn’t surfaced much recently in trade rumors, but it’s possible that could change as the trade deadline nears. The Lakers remain focused on clearing as much cap space as possible for the summer of 2018, so any non-core players could become expendable.

While we wait to see what Clarkson’s future holds, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Pacific division…

  • In a Q&A session with Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, Suns guard Devin Booker discusses the trade that sent Eric Bledsoe out of Phoenix, becoming the face of the Suns, and several other topics. The highlight of the conversation may have been Booker’s “no comment” when asked about the hair salon that Bledsoe supposedly didn’t want to be at when he published his infamous tweet last month.
  • While some players around the NBA might feel pressure to play through injuries, that’s not the case for Warriors players like Kevin Durant, who missed a game last week due to a leg issue. Golden State’s talent and depth allows the club to rest players to avoid making minor ailments worse, as Durant explains to Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. “We have such a deep team. Guys can go out and get those knick knack injuries taken care of,” Durant said.
  • It has been a while since the veteran-heavy Clippers have had to lean on rookies, but they’ve done just that with Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans lately, says Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. The rookie guards have been forced into action as the Clips deal with backcourt injuries.

Lakers Confident They Can Trade Clarkson For 2018 Room If Necessary

Virtually every one of the Lakers’ 2017 offseason moves was made with an eye toward 2018. Timofey Mozgov was dealt in order to create future cap flexibility, and L.A. only committed a single year to a promising young free agent like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in order to preserve space for 2018, when the club plans to pursue a max free agent or two.

In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus takes a deep dive into the math behind the Lakers’ summer of 2018, exploring whether it would be possible to create room for two maximum salaries. While the Lakers don’t currently project to have that sort of space, the club is confident it could trade Jordan Clarkson if necessary in order to clear more salary from its books, a source within the organization tells Pincus.

Of course, as the Mozgov deal proved, any contract is movable in the right deal, but Pincus’ report suggests the Lakers believe they wouldn’t necessarily have to attach another asset of value to Clarkson in order to deal him, like they did with Mozgov. The 25-year-old guard, who averaged 14.7 PPG and 2.6 APG off the bench for L.A. last season, is under contract for three more years at a rate of $12.5MM annually.

Even if the Lakers move Clarkson without taking any salary back, the team would only be up near about $60MM in projected 2018 room, not quite enough for two max players, according to Pincus, who suggests trading or waiving Luol Deng‘s sizable contract would likely be necessary as well.

The summer of 2018 is still a long way off, and it remains to be seen if the Lakers will be able to lure one or two top free agents out west, but the ’18 class currently projects to be a star-studded one — LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George are among the players currently on expiring contracts who have been linked to Los Angeles at some point during their respective careers.

For now, this all merely amounts to speculation. Clarkson’s 2017/18 performance will affect his trade value, and the free agent landscape could look much different for the Lakers by next July than it does now. Still, it’s worth noting that new president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are putting plenty of thought into what the team’s roster will look like a year from now.

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Woj’s Latest: Pacers, George, Lakers, Knicks

Before Paul George‘s camp informed the Pacers that George expects to opt out and leave Indiana next year, the team had been considering pursuing some notable free agents, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. On his latest podcast with Bobby Marks, Wojnarowski identifies point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Danilo Gallinari as a pair of veterans being eyed by the Pacers.

However, according to Wojnarowski, George didn’t want the Pacers to make major moves for his benefit this offseason, locking themselves into big free agent contracts in the hopes that he would be willing to re-sign. With George’s days in Indiana now numbered, the club will likely forgo its potential pursuit of free agents like Holiday and Gallinari.

Here are some more highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks, which centered on George but touched on a few other topics as well:

  • Although Larry Bird is no longer the Pacers‘ president, he’s still a consultant for the team, and he likely wants to avoid sending George to his old rivals in Los Angeles for pennies on the dollar, Wojnarowski observes. Still, Wojnarowski and Marks don’t expect George’s camp to help accommodate a trade to any team besides the Lakers, since the star forward may simply prefer to stay with the Pacers for one more season rather than being sent to a team he’ll likely leave in a year.
  • The Lakers won’t offer Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick in a package for George, according to Wojnarowski, who predicts that L.A. wouldn’t offer the Pacers more than some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick.
  • As the Lakers look ahead to the 2018 offseason, which could see them going after top free agents like George and LeBron James, they’ll want to clear Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng from their books. However, Wojnarowski says the only way that will happen is if the club is willing to attach a first-round pick or a talented young player like D’Angelo Russell to one of those bad contracts. Using the stretch provision on the duo in the summer of 2018 probably makes more sense for L.A.
  • In Wojnarowski’s view, the door was open for the Knicks to be in the Chris Paul discussion this summer, since there’s no perfect fit for CP3 if he wants to leave the Clippers. In theory, the Knicks could have been that fit, but with Phil Jackson and the triangle around, nobody is talking about wanting to play in New York, says Woj.
  • Continuing his discussion of the Knicks, Wojnarowski suggests that Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony has soured many veterans on New York. In particular, Anthony’s friends like Paul, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade view Carmelo’s situation as a cautionary tale, and that view seems to be widely shared around the NBA.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.
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