The Los Angeles Lakers know that they are in a rebuilding mode with the 2015/2016 season and the imminent retirement of Kobe Bryant. One of the only things that really works for them this year is guard Jordan Clarkson, who has been a bright spot but may not be around much longer. It would be in the best interest of the LA Lakers to hold onto him, but will they?
According to Movie News Guide, the sophomore guard is the second-leading scorer for the Lakers and is getting better all the time. The more time he’s being given on the court, the better he is getting, and Clarkson can only go up from here.
The big problem is that the Lakers want to make sure he is the right player to have as they rebuild and if they should form a team around him. Is he really going to keep getting better and be able to lead them?
As the Lakers have struggled to a 5-24 record through the end of 2015, Clarkson’s 14.9 points per game have impressed many people. Actually, he’s impressed enough people that other teams may look to try and snag him away from the Lakers.
After this season, the Los Angeles Times states that the Lakers retain his early bird rights, which will enable them to spend up to $6 million — $26.7 million over four seasons — to keep him in Los Angeles. That seems about right, but is he worth it??
It’s a figure that is lower than what Clarkson appears to be worth, but seeing as he will be a restricted free agent and the Lakers hold those rights, the “Gilbert Arenas” rule comes into play. This means that other NBA teams are limited in what they can offer Clarkson in 2016/2017, and it’s only $5.6 million.
Another NBA team could pay him up to $5.9 million in the second year of a new year, but then things could escalate quickly. In his third and fourth seasons, Clarkson’s salary could jump to $22.7 million and $23.6 million, respectively, for an average of $14.5 million over four years.
The Lakers have the right to match any offer like that to Jordan Clarkson, and it would work greatly for them over the next two seasons. The limit on what he can be offered would give them extra spending money for the next two summers.
In a couple of years, though, Clarkson’s price tag would hit the Lakers hard and could end up causing big problems. That seems to be a bridge that they may just end up crossing when they get to it. Of course, that’s if they decide to keep him around.
The Lakers may also choose to pay Clarkson close to the $14.5 million on average and let him look around in NBA free agency. This would end up with him probably receiving offers of a $13 million-per-year average salary.
For now, Clarkson is starting at point guard for the LA Lakers, but that may not last. Once Kobe Bryant’s retirement is official after this season, and D’Angelo Russell gets more used to play in the NBA, Clarkson could end up at shooting guard.
Depending on how the Lakers do things with Clarkson, they should still have the money around to chase big name free agents. No one is forgetting that Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is a free agent this summer and will likely require around $25 million a year.
Jordan Clarkson could honestly be the guard that many NBA teams would want to build their starting five around. The LA Lakers have the priority option of doing just that, but depending on just how good he gets, it may end costing them.
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