EL SEGUNDO — The deal sent a clear signal the Lakers viewed Jordan Clarkson as part of their long-term future. The Lakers signed Clarkson last summer to a four-year, $50 million deal, an offer that signified Clarkson’s growth through two NBA seasons and their optimism about his long-term growth.
But after completing his third NBA season with the Lakers, the 24-year-old Clarkson faces a series of questions regarding his future. Will he play more as a point guard, shooting guard or mix of both? Will Clarkson start or come off the bench?
“I don’t know,” Clarkson said following his exit meeting on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “I guess we’ll have to see.”
Clarkson already has first-hand experience on handling those fluctuating roles. After rarely playing his rookie season, Lakers’ 46th pick in the 2014 NBA draft suddenly became the definitive starting point guard to close out the second half of the season amid persisting losses and a season-ending injury to Kobe Bryant. After starting during his entire season season, Clarkson lost that spot this season partly because Lakers coach Luke Walton though he and D’Angelo Russell struggled co-existing.
Clarkson then faced adjustments sharing ball-handling duties with Lou Williams, who became more efficient with his scoring. Clarkson flourished once the Lakers traded Williams to Houston before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Clarkson then started as a point guard both with and without Russell in the lineup amid Walton’s quest to evaluate various combinations.
“I was kind of prepared for whatever, not knowing and coming into the season and what it was,” Clarkson said. “Just having an open mind to anything with a new coaching staff and everything.”
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