One of the Los Angeles Lakers only bright spots over the past two seasons was the play of guard Jordan Clarkson. The team acquired him with the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft they bought from the Washington Wizards, and Clarkson's play has far outpaced the norm for that draft slot.
After averaging 15.5 points on 43.3 percent shooting last season, Clarkson will have some suitors this summer, just about the only downside of the guard's strong play for Los Angeles. Among them will be the New York Knicks, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York. Begley reports that Clarkson "has fans in the Knicks organization," however, he does note the obvious caveat that "it seems as if Los Angeles will retain the second-year player."
How will Los Angeles keep Clarkson? For one thing, the guard is a restricted free agent, meaning the team can match any offer given to him by another team. Additionally making Clarkson easier for the Lakers retain is his status as an "Arenas rule" free agent, a situation Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times ably explains here:
After Clarkson's second season in the league, the Lakers will hold his early bird rights, which enable the team to spend up to $6 million, and $26.7 million over four seasons, to retain him.
That figure is presumably below Clarkson's market value, but because he is restricted and the Lakers only hold his early bird rights, the Arenas rule applies -- limiting what other teams can offer Clarkson to just $5.6 million for the 2016-17 season.
While another franchise can pay him up to $5.9 million in the second year, his salary for the third and fourth seasons could jump significantly to $22.7 million and $23.6 million for a total of $57.8 million -- or $14.5 million on average.
The Lakers would have the right to match such an offer, which would result in Clarkson back at a sizable discount in the first two years, followed by a pair at a massive maximum salary.
The TL;DR version of that is basically "the Lakers are in the driver's seat to keep Clarkson, should they want to do so." On a team starved for young talent, that is almost undoubtedly the case. Further aiding the Lakers quest to keep Clarkson is that the desire to stay together is mutual, as he made clear in a recent interview with Silver Screen and Roll:
"Being here, them giving me the opportunity by drafting me at 46[th overall] and us having those two bad seasons, I definitely want to be around when stuff changes and we get to winning again," Clarkson told Silver Screen and Roll during an interview at his JC6 Nike Basketball Camp. "I've just had a good experience here, so I wouldn't want to leave and experience anything else."
Considering all of these factors. it would be legitimately shocking if Clarkson was playing in any uniform other than a Lakers one next season, no matter how many "fans" he has with the Knicks.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.