One of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA world revolves around the Los Angeles Lakers and big plans for the summer of 2018. Obviously, LeBron James is at the center of any free agent discussion, but in the grand scheme, the Lakers would love to have salary cap flexibility even if James declines overtures from Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and company on July 1.
In that spirit, a report has emerged from Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, and it includes interesting desires from the team’s front office.
In short, the Lakers are apparently shopping both scoring guard Jordan Clarkson and dynamic frontcourt piece Julius Randle, with the inclusion that both players are already aware that the organization is exploring the market for their services.
Via the Los Angeles Times:
Randle’s situation is worth watching, though. The Lakers would love to trade him if they could, and Jordan Clarkson fits in that category too. Both players know they have been offered in trades by the Lakers, and they’re handling it in different ways.
This is not an overly surprising development, simply because Los Angeles holds a theoretical advantage on most (if not all) NBA teams should full-blown salary cap space become available. Clarkson is owed $12.5 million in 2018-2019 and $13.4 million in 2019-2020, leaving some level of urgency should the Lakers not believe in him as a backcourt piece for the future. As for Randle, he faces restricted free agency in July, and while Los Angeles could simply choose not to tender a qualifying offer, he is a talented player with lottery pedigree, and losing that kind of basketball asset is never an optimal solution.
The jury remains firmly out as to whether Randle and/or Clarkson are truly pieces to envision as members of a high-end team’s “core” in the future, and that drives the discussion. Throw in the calculus with regard to whether Clarkson is even worth the $25-plus million investment over the next seasons after this one concludes, and this becomes a situation to monitor closely, even in a world in which the best player in the world doesn’t want to join the Lakers.