Jordan Clarkson joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a draft night acquisition in 2014, with the team purchasing the rights to the 46th overall pick for $1.8 million. Forum blue and gold are the only colors Clarkson has ever worn as a pro, but that could change this summer, with Clarkson entering restricted free agency during an unprecedented cap boom.
However, based on Clarkson's recent interview with Chris McGee of Time Warner Cable Sportsnet, it doesn't sound like he's getting a wandering eye (h/t Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold).
"I want to stay in L.A.," Clarkson told McGee following a workout at the team's practice facility. "I don't really look at it as me being a free agent, because I want to be here."
That's music to the ears of many Lakers fans, because while the team can (and likely will) match any offer Clarkson receives in free agency, it's good to hear that one of the team's foundational players is enthusiastic about remaining a part of their future.
Clarkson told McGee he's spent "a lot of time" working out at the Lakers facility since their season ended, and also offered some insight into the specific areas of his game he's working to improve for his seemingly inevitable return to the Lakers next season.
"[I'm shooting] a lot of threes. Trying to get my three-point percentage up for next year," said Clarkson. "A lot of stuff off the dribble, a lot of stuff with contact and trying to be able to finish. That's probably the biggest thing offensively."
To aid in his quest to finish through contact, Clarkson says he's been working with Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco to add weight and build muscle. The results of their work are pretty obvious when looking at a recent photo of Clarkson on his visit to the Philippines:
Driving car— Erika Padilla (@padillaerika) May 28, 2016
Seeing @jclark5on cross the street
Yup that random
See u at the games pic.twitter.com/SVYvXMdRvs
Clarkson is either wearing flesh-colored shoulder pads, or the third-year guard has gotten jacked during the offseason. If the new muscle keeps Clarkson relentlessly attacking the basket, his new coach will be a fan of it.
"He just tells me that when I'm in attack mode he likes that stuff," Clarkson told McGee when asked what Lakers head coach Luke Walton had praised about his game. "So I'm just going to keep doing what I do best."
Over the last couple of years, Clarkson's best hasn't resulted in a lot of wins. The Lakers two worst years in franchise history have coincided with Clarkson's first two with the team, something he says all of the offseason work is aimed towards changing when he returns to Los Angeles in free agency.
"I've still got my mind on the main goal, and that's trying to be better and to win games next year."
All quotes transcribed via Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. You can follow this author on Twitter @hmfaigen.