Most NBA trade rumors come about because teams are simply trying to improve their lineups, but sometimes, players don’t like their situation and ask for (or demand) a trade. There is a new rumor hitting cyberspace that points toward a fracturing of the relationship between the Los Angeles Lakers and one of their key players.
According to Sportsrageous, combo guard Jordan Clarkson has been moved to the bench by head coach Luke Walton, and Clarkson may be looking for a fresh start elsewhere due to this demotion. The talk that is circulating has Clarkson possibly being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers for shooting guard J.R. Smith or heading to Philadelphia in exchange for one of the Sixers’ centers, either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel.
This particular NBA trade rumor is the result of an overreaction to Clarkson’s new role in Los Angeles. Some of this gossip is true — Jordan Clarkson is indeed being moved to a role off the bench for the Lakers, as reported by the official team website, Lakers.com. However, reports of Clarkson’s unhappiness with the decision and desire to be traded appear to be unfounded. Walton has made it clear that this is not a demotion, but rather a way to strengthen the Lakers’ second unit (and the team as a whole).
“I don’t look at it as really coming off the bench as much as the way (former Lakers star) Lamar Odom came off our bench but he was really a starter,” Walton said. “He played big minutes, played the end of ball games. Manu Ginobili did it for years in San Antonio. It’s really a way of getting a starter in with the second unit so you don’t have a lot of drop-off. But he’s very good at that role so far.”
Walton goes on to state that Clarkson is embracing his new role, and has performed well off the bench during the preseason.
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Even if it was true that Jordan Clarkson was unhappy and wanted to be traded, Los Angeles can’t include him in a trade until December 15 per the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Clarkson was signed by the Lakers to a new four-year, $50 million contract this summer, so he is not currently trade-eligible.
Another serious flaw in these NBA trade rumors is the assertion that Los Angeles might trade Clarkson to the Cavs for J.R. Smith, who is currently a free agent. Additionally, it has been reported that his agent and the Cavaliers are far apart in their contract negotiations. It has been made clear by many within the Cavaliers organization (including LeBron James) that the team wants to re-sign Smith to bolster their lineup for what they hope will be another title run — there seems to be no interest on Cleveland’s part in a sign-and-trade deal for J.R. Smith.
Jordan Clarkson began his NBA career as an afterthought when he was drafted in the second round (46th overall) by the Lakers in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, Clarkson quickly showed that he belongs in the league, winning the starting point guard job during his rookie season in Los Angeles.
After the Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick a year later, Clarkson was shifted to shooting guard, where his raw numbers improved even further. Clarkson averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 79 games (all starts) last season. Now in his third year, Clarkson will be asked to take on yet another new role — this time as the leader of the Lakers’ bench unit.
Current NBA trade rumors are indicating that the Los Angeles Lakers are planning to move Jordan Clarkson to the bench and that he is upset about the decision and wants to be traded. The first part of the rumor is accurate, as confirmed by Clarkson’s head coach, Luke Walton. However, reports of discord between Clarkson and the team do not appear to ring true. Jordan Clarkson will remain an important part of the Lakers’ rebuilding plan, despite recent speculation to the contrary.
[Featured Image by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]