NBA free agency: Lakers agree to deal with Jordan Clarkson

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson recently received a qualifying offer from the Lakers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson recently received a qualifying offer from the Lakers. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The Lakers may have struck out on landing a marquee free agent. But they managed to keep one of their rising stars from leaving.

The Lakers and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson agreed to a four-year deal worth $50 million, according to league sources. The deal cannot be signed until the NBA moratorium ends on July 7.

The Lakers could have waited considering they could have matched any offer sheet Clarkson received from other teams. That move also could have given the Lakers some short-term relief. Under the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule, the Lakers could pay Clarkson around $5.5 million for the next seasons before receiving a hefty pay raise around $22-$23 million per season.

Still, that approach could hurt the Lakers’ future cap space when the free agency classes might be considered more talented. The Lakers also wanted to send the message that they value the 24-year-old Clarkson after finishing last season second in points (15.5) and first in minutes played (32.5). The Lakers bought the rights from the Washington Wizards to select Clarkson 46th overall in the 2014 NBA draft. He then landed on the NBA’s All-Rookie team and became a fixture in the team’s starting rotation.

“We had two tough years, but I don’t want to be a guy that is afraid and will run away from challenges,” Clarkson said last month. “I want to be a part of the situation when it turns around because I was here when it was down. I never want to leave.”

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NBA free agency: Lakers express interest in Kent Bazemore

The Lakers’ quest to facilitate their rebuilding project led them toward reaching back to their recent past.

The Lakers expressed interest on Thursday in acquiring Atlanta forward Kent Bazemore, according to league sources. But two years after Bazemore became a lost casualty of the Lakers’ heavier priority on star free agents, the Lakers will field stiff competition from other teams interested in his services.

Bazemore met with representatives of the Houston Rockets on Thursday night and has shown interest toward six other teams, including the Hawks, league sources said. After averaging 11.6 points on 44.1 percent shooting and 5.1 rebounds in his second season with Atlanta, Bazemore has become a rising commodity because of his offensive and defensive versatility.

The Lakers wanted to re-sign Bazemore in the 2014 offseason. He had averaged a career-high 13.1 points per game through 28 appearances with the Lakers, arriving in February after the NBA trade deadline in a deal that sent Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors.

But the Lakers opted against giving him a $1.1 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent in order to maximize purchasing power for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers also finalized deals with Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Jordan Hill.

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

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NBA free agency: Lakers agree to deal with Timofey Mozgov

The Lakers made one step in hopes to upgrade their center position.

They agreed to a deal with Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov, according to league sources familiar with the situation. The terms weren’t readily available, but the Vertical reported the deal is worth $65 million through four years.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak reached out to Mozgov when free agency began at 9:01 p.m. PT on Thursday. It did not take long for them to proceed from there.

While plenty of attention centered on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in guiding Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championships, Mozgov averaged only 6.3 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 4.4 rebounds. Still, the Lakers were in dire need of upgrading their center position after deciding not to resign Roy Hibbert, who posted a career-low in points (5.9) and anchoring a defense that ranked 27th in points allowed (106.8). The Lakers also had around $60 million in cap space.

Other front-court candidates included Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Atlanta’s Al Horford. But Whiteside has narrowed his choices down between Miami and Dallas, according to The Vertical. As of Thursday, Horford did not indicate any interest with the Lakers, according to league sources.

Still, 7-foot-1 Mozgov showed promise in the 2014-15 season when he averaged 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 games. Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw also has liked Mozgov’s game after coaching him with the Denver Nuggets.

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Jordan Clarkson downplays financial component of pending free agency

Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson optimistic Lakers coach Luke Walton will accelerate their development

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

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Lakers extend qualifying offer to Jordan Clarkson

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson said he wants to return to the Lakers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson said he wants to return to the Lakers. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The move represents a mere formality that both Jordan Clarkson and the Lakers hope forges into a long-term partnership.

The Lakers extended a qualifying offer worth $2.7 million to Clarkson on Thursday. The Lakers also did the same to backup point guard Marcelo Huertas and backup center Tarik Black, with qualifying offers worth both $1.1 million.

Most of the focus centers on Clarkson, however, after finishing last season second in points (15.5) and first in minutes played (32.5). Clarkson could accept the qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017, though he has no intentions of doing so. The Lakers have not offered any indications on how they plan to handle Clarkson’s upcoming free agency.

The Lakers could quickly negotiate a deal after July 1 for two reasons. The move would signal loyalty to Clarkson. It would also prevent any team from pursuing Clarkson.

Or the Lakers could maximize cap space in the next two years by matching any of Clarkson’s offer sheets. Under the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule, the Lakers could pay Clarkson around $5.5 million for the next two seasons before receiving a hefty pay raise around $22-$23 million per season. Still, that approach could hurt the Lakers’ future cap space when the free agency classes might be considered more talented.

Nonetheless, Clarkson said last month he has not become concerned on about those scenarios. Instead, he has expressed appreciation for the Lakers after selecting him with the No. 46 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

“We had two tough years, but I don’t want to be a guy that is afraid and will run away from challenges,” Clarkson last month. “I want to be a part of the situation when it turns around because I was here when it was down. I never want to leave.”

As for Black and Huertas, their future with the Lakers likely hinges on what happens in the open market place.

The Lakers like Black’s hustle after averaging 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds on 57.5% shooting in 77 games over the past two seasons. The Lakers grew to like Huertas’ efforts to direct the offense after averaging 4.5 points and a team-leading 3.4 assists in 53 appearances.

But the Lakers are focusing more on other free agency targets, such as Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Atlanta’s Al Horford.

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

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NBA free agency: Evan Turner interested in Lakers

Free agency will not just mark the period the Lakers hope to revamp their roster. It could also represent a period in which another saga of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry unfolds.

Boston free-agent shooting guard Evan Turner has expressed interest in about six NBA teams, including the Lakers and Celtics, according to league sources familiar with the situation.

The 27-year-old Turner provided a jack-of-all-trades role through two seasons in Boston. He averaged 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists over 27.8 minutes per game through two seasons in Boston. He excelled on defense. He reportedly kept the Celtics’ locker room loose.

Questions arose about Turner’s 3-point shooting after only shooting 24.1 percent last season. Yet, Turner made up for that with an efficient mid-range game by shooting 52.9 percent from shots within 12-14 feet, according to NBA.com. After shooting 14.5 percent from 3-point range in the first half of the season, Turner made 52.4 percent of his 3-point attempts after the NBA All-Star break.

Turner faced heavy expectations with the Philadelphia 76ers after they selected him second overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. After averaging 11.83 points through 3 1/2 seasons with the Sixers, Turner was then traded to the Indiana Pacers. Turner then signed with the Celtics in 2014 to a two-year deal worth $6.7 million.

“I had some of the most fun playing basketball since I’ve played in the NBA,” Turner recently said on “The Vertical Podcast” with Clippers guard J.J. Redick. “We’ve had a great locker room. Boston was definitely a first class organization. Brad Stevens did a lot for my career and my maturity.”

Should Turner land with the Lakers, that could lead to shuffling with their current backcourt. The Lakers plan to retain second-year guard Jordan Clarkson, though Turner’s potential arrival could lead toward both competing for the starting spot at shooting guard. Clarkson prefers to start for competitive purposes, but has maintained he would adapt to any role that is asked of him.

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

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TWC SportsNet panel debates which centers the Lakers should pursue

The facts have become pretty clear.

The Lakers need a center after not expecting to retain Roy Hibbert. The Lakers also need someone who can both produce inside and anchor a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season.

So who should the Lakers target?

Should they pursue Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside because he checks all those boxes? Or should they hesitate given his relative youth and past immaturity could become a bad influence for the Lakers’ young roster?

Should the Lakers go after Atlanta forward Al Horford because of his veteran experience and offensive versatility? Or should they wonder if Horford will provide enough on defense?

As shown in the videos above and below, this all became a topic of discussion Wednesday night on Time Warner Cable’s Access SportsNet. Host Chris McGee, 710 ESPN analyst Andy Kamenetzky and I analyzed the various centers the Lakers could pursue in free agency.

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

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NBA free agency: NBA TV analyst Stu Jackson weighs impact Kobe Bryant’s departure will have

Free agent Kevin Durant, seen with now-retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant in January, has reportedly left the Lakers off his list of teams with whom he will meet this offseason. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Free agent Kevin Durant, seen with now-retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant in January, has reportedly left the Lakers off his list of teams with whom he will meet this offseason. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Below is a Q&A on Lakers’ with NBA TV analyst Stu Jackson, who is going to be a large part of the network’s free agency-focused programming. NBATV will have a free agency preview show on June 30 both at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET. Then, NBA TV will air a “Free Agent Fever” episode on Friday beginning at 8 a.m. followed by updates throughout the morning and live studio coverage from 2-11:30 p.m. Free agent coverage will continue on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET as well as NBA GameTime Shows on Saturday and Sunday at 11 p.m. ET.

Jackson: “With Kobe, you lose one of the greatest players of all time. Certainly he is in that conversation. But now it’s an opportunity for the franchise to really turn the page and move on from Kobe. At the same time, Kobe will always be a Laker and could be an asset in helping with rebuilding the franchise. I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to help. But right now I look at the Lakers as having a clean canvas. They have a top draft pick. They can open up a lot of cap space to acquire free agents or accept in trade. They have a pretty good foundation of young players in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson in which to build around. If you’re looking to pitch, that’s the pitch. For the Lakers, for them to build the franchise the way they want, it’ll take getting that one free agent to pull the trigger and want to make the Lakers the great franchise it once was.”
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NBA Draft: Mitch Kupchak says “we have more to sell” in free agency

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak plans to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina soon. (Robert Casillas - Staff Photographer)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak plans to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina soon. (Robert Casillas – Staff Photographer)

The Lakers’ 16 NBA championship trophies, the sunny skies and proximity to Hollywood once represented the only visual selling points they needed to land their next star.

But then something happened. The Lakers missed the playoffs for the past three seasons because of rosters that both lacked health and talent. The current labor deal has imposed more stringent spending limitations. It no longer has become necessary to latch onto the Lakers’ global brand in order for a star to maximize theirs.

So, the Lakers struggled to retain their own star free agents, including Dwight Howard (2013) and Pau Gasol (2014). The Lakers also could not attract stars from other teams, including LeBron James (2014), Carmelo Anthony (2014), LaMarcus Aldridge (2015), DeAndre Jordan (2015) and Greg Monroe (2015).

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak conceded things “might not be different” when free agency begins on July 1. After all, the Lakers finished the 2016-17 season with its worst record in franchise history (17-65). Yet, Kupchak argued that the Lakers “have more to sell.”

“Our asset allotment is better,” Kupchak said. “Our circumstances are better.”
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NBA Draft: Lakers select Croatian center Ivica Zubac at No. 32

EL SEGUNDO — The Lakers selected Croatian seven-foot center Ivica Zubac with the No. 32 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Numerous NBA mock drafts have compared Zubac to Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, though it remains unclear how soon Zubac will play in the NBA. The Lakers could stash him overseas to give him more time to develop.

Zubac helped the Croatian team win the silver medal in the Under-19 World Championships, averaging 17.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also played last season for KK Cibona in Croatia, though he left amid reported issues with decreased playing time over a coaching change.

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

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NBA Draft: Luke Walton dismisses concerns about Brandon Ingram’s weight

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Luke Walton is formally introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers during a press conference at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

EL SEGUNDO — Even as he stayed consumed with the Golden State Warriors’ playoff run, Lakers coach Luke Walton watched enough tape of Brandon Ingram that featured plenty of images.

Walton gushed about Ingram’s length. Walton complimented Ingram’s defensive awareness. Walton praised Ingram’s leadership qualities.

But when it came toward assessing Ingram’s a rail-thin 6-9, 190-pound frame? Even if NBA talent evaluators have constantly brought up that issue, Walton insisted he “doesn’t see concerns about his weight” for one simple reason.

“He’s young; he’ll naturally get stronger,” Walton said on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “Talking to some of the coaches that were here when he came and did his workout, even though he’s skinny, he had strength to him in the individual workout that he did. That’s good to hear.”

Ingram said he has gone from weighing 169 pounds to 195 in the past year because of constant workouts and high-caloric meals. He also has said he wants to weigh 210 pounds by the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Yet those around Ingram have downplayed his weight issues, arguing that he can overcome such a weakness with superior defense and an outside shot.

“I don’t know if he’s the best or not, but he’s the player I wanted,” Walton said. “What he has the potential of doing and what he can already do at his age, with his length and his skill set, is very impressive and unique.”

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

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