Earl Clark wants to return to the Lakers even if it’s at a cheaper price

Even if he’s offered a lower salary and fewer years compared to other offers, Earl Clark maintains he’d prefer re-signing this offseason with the Lakers.

“It’s not always about the money,” said Clark, who earned $1.2 million this season. “You could go somewhere with more money and be in a bad situation. I’m not trying to do that.”

Clark’s sentiments are simple. At first, the Lakers considered him to be no more than a throw-in from the Orlando trade that brought them Dwight Howard. But Clark had a breakout season, averaging a career-high 7.3 points on 44 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds after Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni liked his athleticism and energy. Clark still struggled, averaging only 3.5 points per game in the playoffs and showing a steep learning curve in executing the Lakers’ offensive sets.

But Clark hopes his willingness to have a relatively cheaper contract than possibly other teams would offer will convince the Lakers to allow him to develop with them,

“I want to have a consistent role on a team that believed I could help them win every night,” Clark said. “Hopefully I’ll be here. I want to be here. I like the way we play. I think it fits me. We’ll see. I hope Mitch feels the same way.”

That would be Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who faces plenty of tough decisions to make this offseason. Clark hopes he’s not one of those tough decisions.

“I want to be with the Lakers and not be known with a team that was the worst in history,” Clark said. “This sucks.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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