Jordan Clarkson

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.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Inglewood, Clarkson

Expect Rudy Gay to pursue a playoff contender this offseason, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes, even if that takes him away from the Kings. The veteran could serve a valuable role with a competitive team given his proven ability to score the ball but where does that leave Sacramento?

That Gay is expecting to test the market is nothing new, he said as much last September. Not even the early season success that the Kings enjoyed in 2016/17 or the shroud of uncertainty cast when the forward tore his Achilles midseason could dissuade him from betting on himself in the open market.

Gay’s absence in the latter half of last campaign revealed the fact that whether Gay is on the sidelines or with another franchise altogether the Kings are in desperate need of a forward with size. Undersized shooting guards, Jones says, only compromise head coach Dave Joerger‘s defense.

The team has in-house options to audition at the 3, including 2016 first-rounder Malachi Richardson, but would be wise to target players like Jayson Tatum or Justin Jackson in the upcoming NBA Draft. Kings draft-and-stash prospect Bogdan Bogdanovic could ultimately address the need as well, Jones adds.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Northwest Notes: Hill, Favors, Workouts

Keeping Gordon Hayward in Utah is the top priority for the Jazz this offseason, but re-signing him alone isn’t going to help the team climb in the Western Conference standings, Benjamin Mehic of the Deseret News writes.

The team must also shore up its point guard position. George Hill will be a free agent this summer and the team will have trouble finding a top-notch point guard replacement should he bolt. Hill has expressed a desire to return, as Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors mentioned in the team’s offseason preview. However, many players say flattering things about their current team as they head into free agency only to leave for another club.

If Hill is lured away, the most likely option for the Jazz is promoting Dante Exum to the starting unit, though that could hurt the team in the win column since Exum hasn’t quite proven himself in the league yet.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

Central Notes: D. Griffin, Pistons, Pacers, Clarkson, Butler

Cavaliers GM David Griffin faces an uncertain future, writes Joe Drape of The New York Times in a well-written piece detailing the executive’s background, approach, and accomplishments. Griffin’s contract with the Cavs expires at the end of this month and, as Drape states, “[Dan] Gilbert is a hands-on owner who has a history of letting player and executive contracts run out before going to the negotiating table.”

Since being named the Cavs’ GM in May 2014, Griffin has lured LeBron James back to the team, traded for Kevin Love, acquired many vital role players, fired David Blatt as head coach, hired Tyronn Lue to replace him, and most importantly brought a championship to Cleveland. For all the recent interest in Griffin, the general manager wishes to maintain a low profile, text messaging regarding comment on the story: “I really appreciate the opportunity to reconsider but I am trying desperately to keep a low profile and my quotes being in something about me just makes me uncomfortable. Ownership wouldn’t appreciate either, I am sure.”

Here are some other stories you’ll want to check out from the Central division:

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson On Trade Block?

A year after signing a long-term deal with the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson may find himself on the trade block this summer. According to Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders, the Lakers are “increasingly open-minded” about trading Jordan Clarkson, with a source suggesting that a deal this offseason wouldn’t be a surprise.

While Hamilton cautions that the idea of a Clarkson trade is mostly “conjecture” at this point, Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) takes it a step further. Schultz hears from a source that the Lakers aren’t just open-minded about moving Clarkson — they’ve been actively seeking out offers.

Dealing Clarkson, who will turn 25 next Wednesday, would make some sense for the Lakers if they’re locked into a guard like Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick. With Ball and D’Angelo Russell in the mix, a player like Clarkson – who is earning $12.5MM annually on a four-year contract – wouldn’t necessarily have a major role in L.A.’s backcourt unless the team wants to make him a full-time shooting guard.

Moving Russell would also be a possibility, though there has been no indication that the Lakers are considering that, despite alleged interest from other teams.

Clarkson is currently on track to enter the 2017/18 season as the third-highest-paid Laker, but would have more trade value than the two players earning more than him (Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov). In 2016/17, Clarkson appeared in all 82 games, averaging 14.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 2.6 APG.

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