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Earl Clark: Why Newest Laker Will Greatly Help Strengthen Thin LA Bench

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 08:  Earl Clark #3 of the Orlando Magic attempts a shot against Brian Cook #34 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the game at Amway Arena on February 8, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Steven CookContributor IIIAugust 10, 2012

It's not exactly the part of the blockbuster deal that's been making headlines, but the Los Angeles Lakers will be very glad that they brought in bench player Earl Clark down the stretch.

In addition to receiving Dwight Howard, the Lakers also were able to add Clark and Chris Duhon in the massive deal, according to ESPN.com news services.  

While Duhon is undoubtedly the more well-known of the two, Clark's impact on the team will resonate with fans throughout the season as bench depth and minutes become a huge factor.

Clark's numbers don't jump off the page. Logging 45 games played with the Magic last season, Clark posted just 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds on just over 12 minutes per game. 

But what Clark brings to the Lakers is an able body on the bench that can become a regular contributor to decreasing the wear-and-tear placed on starters Howard and Pau Gasol. He'll be able to get his rebounds and affect the game while knowing his role. 

And perhaps the most important facet of his game: He's used to playing behind D12 in Orlando.

Clark was one of Howard's primary replacements in the post during substitutions, and it worked out well for Orlando; they were able to have a productive season despite the mess surrounding their franchise.

His salary is peanuts at just over $1 million this season. You'd be hard pressed to find a guy of Clark's reliability that is so affordable. 

The Laker bench in 2011-12 was one of the weakest in the league, and they gave up many leagues that Kobe Bryant & Co. produced. They couldn't afford to let that happen again, which is why bringing in Clark is such a huge win for Los Angeles. 

Sure, you don't love the .391 career field goal percentage, but when are you going to expect gaudy offensive numbers from such a player? 

When it comes down to it, L.A. is lucky that they were able to grab a NBA-ready bench player who can log 10 minutes per game, an all-important role on a title-contending team. Having one of the most well-known starting lineups in NBA history is great and all, but there's plenty of seasoned vets on that starting five that will need replacements and reduced minutes throughout the latter parts of the season.

Los Angeles isn't able to be a big spender on the market and bring in huge bench contributors in the offseason until they win another championship, in which case many veterans will flock to L.A. in the same way we've seen so many flock to Miami this offseason. 

All the more reason why Clark is such a great fit in Laker Land. 

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