Earl Clark is the starting power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, in case you missed it. Yes, the throw-in with Dwight Howard is now in a "hall of fame" starting lineup, and playing well above any expectation for the last guy on the bench to get a chance at cracking the rotation. On the season Clark is averaging 7.2 points per game (48.1% from the field, 50% from deep), 5.8 rebounds per game, and 1.2 assists per game.
Perhaps most importantly, he has provided something the Lakers have distinctly lacked this season: youth, athleticism, and energy. Earl will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and per L.A. Times' Mike Bresnahan, his first choice will be to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He's quick to add that his first choice is the Lakers, who can sign the unrestricted free agent even though they are already well over the salary cap next season.
"This is my first team that gave me an opportunity. I love the guys here," Clark said. "The organization and the style of play fits me. I really want to stay here." - Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times
It isn't solely up to Earl Clark, and it doesn't always work out. Similarly last season, Ramon Sessions repeatedly spoke on how he wanted to say with the Lakers, then chose to opt out of the final year of his contract, and is now with the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I want to be here. I don't know what that means or how that's going to happen. It ain't no secret. I'll tell anybody that. I tell [Lakers General Manager] Mitch Kupchak. I tell my agent. I want to be here. Period. For a long time." - Mike Bresnahan, L.A. Times
Ramon wasn't with the Lakers for very long. Period.
The price of the Clark has definitely risen these last few weeks, but just how much remains a question. He is still an unproven commodity for the Lakers at this point, but if he continues proving himself as an asset, the Lakers will have to find a price tag that works for both sides when he becomes a free agent.