Is Earl Clark Another Diamond In The Rough For The Spurs?

The San Antonio Spurs plan on working out free agent forward Earl Clark this week. The 6-10 Clark has largely been a disappointment in the NBA, considering his size and skill, but with the Spurs he might be another reclamation project where later we’re astounded by their prescience.

Last summer, Clark signed a two-year deal with a team option in the second year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 45 games with the Cavs, Clark was a disappointment, averaging just 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting just 37.5 percent from the field.

He was dealt at the trade deadline to Philadelphia when the Cavs acquired Spencer Hawes. The 76ers immediately waived him and Clark subsequently signed with the New York Knicks, where he played nine games towards the end of the season.

According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Spurs will bring Clark in for a look this week. Based on his numbers last season, it doesn’t seem like anything to get excited about, but consider a few things.

First, this:


For all the jokes we make about the Spurs and how every player they acquire seems to work out for them, they really do have a long history of rehabilitating players and finding a fit for them on the team.

The latest example would be Boris Diaw, who was on his way out of the league after parting ways with the Charlotte Bobcats and is now entrenched as a role player on a championship team in San Antonio.

Also, Clark is just 26 years old and showed a lot of potential two seasons ago with the Los Angeles Lakers, including a mid-season stretch where he was putting up double-doubles on a nightly basis:

Head coach Mike D’Antoni was so impressed with Clark he inserted him into the starting lineup over Pau Gasol during the season.

Even Kobe Bryant was impressed, as mentioned by Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times:

In the clip-and-save department, Clark had more points at halftime (nine) than Steve Nash or Kobe Bryant (eight each).

But can he be consistent like this?

“If I keep getting an opportunity to play and get some minutes, I don’t see why not,” he said after making nine of 12 shots, including the third three-pointer of his career. “Since I’ve been in the NBA, I’ve just been waiting for a consistent opportunity.”

Clark, who makes $1.2 million this season, is a free agent in July.

“He sits in the seat right next to me on the plane and I talk to him a little bit. He always says he’s ready to go and he definitely was,” Bryant said. “He played phenomenal against a heck of a team with some great forwards. I’m just very, very impressed.”

Even if he signs with the Spurs, Clark will not get the the type of minutes he needs to make a huge impact.

Still, given his young age, the potential he’s shown in the past, and the reputation of the Spurs, we’re betting this will be a good pick up for San Antonio if it happens. At the very least, it will be a low-risk bet with lots of upside.

What do you think?

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