Injuries and an overall lack of depth have turned the Los Angeles Lakers into one of the NBA's worst teams, and while the playoffs already appear to be a long shot, the addition of Earl Clark would help bring some more consistency to a squad that has been very difficult to watch through 15 games.
At 3-12, the Lakers really can't have much else go wrong. Steve Nash is done for the year. Julius Randle is as well. Xavier Henry's ruptured Achilles will keep him out for the year. Carlos Boozer is dealing with a banged-up shoulder. Ryan Kelly's hamstring has been barking, and that should sideline him for at least another month.
This rash of injuries has created an issue in the frontcourt for Los Angeles. Ed Davis and Jordan Hill have played exceptionally well, while Robert Sacre has also performed better than expected. Of course, a little extra help would be appreciated.
The team appears ready to turn to a familiar face in Clark, who played for the team during the 2012-13 season, tweets Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Lakers, Earl Clark working on a one-year deal, league sources told Yahoo. He's averaging nearly 30 points for Houston's D-League affiliate.2014-11-26 15:06:51
Wojnarowski wrote that a deal could come together quickly: "The eventual finalization of a deal could bring Clark back to the Lakers in the next few days, sources said."
The 26-year-old was a bright spot with the Lakers a few years back, averaging 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 36 starts.
With the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Clark has posted marks of 28.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in 35.8 minutes per game. It's definitely time for him to get back to the NBA.
Clark found himself in the NBA D-League to start the season because of a lack of interest in his services during the summer. During the wait to find a new home, Clark told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that he has something to prove:
I feel like I’ve shown people over and over [what I can do]. I had to prove myself. I’ve been coached by many different coaches and survived. I went to different teams and didn’t burn any bridges; it’s hard to do that in this league. Now, I’m definitely looking for minutes – an opportunity to get out there and play my game. … Over and over, I’ve survived and once they put me out there, I do my job. That’s all I can say; that’s all I can live for. Whichever teams calls my name and gives me that opportunity, I’m going to be ready to play.
More minutes would presumably be in his future with the Lakers. He won't play nearly 36 minutes per game like he did with the Vipers, but Clark stands to earn roughly 20 minutes a night both as a power forward and bigger small forward.
The Lakers aren't looking for somebody to change the landscape of what appears to be a lost season. If they are, then Clark isn't that guy.
But if the team wants a player who has somewhat of a track record and who plays hard each night under any circumstances, then Clark is the smart signing.
Remember when Clark played for the team in 2012-13? The Lakers had championship aspirations that year after acquiring both Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason. The team ultimately disappointed, finishing 45-37.
This team is on pace to finish far worse, but Clark is no stranger to playing on underachieving teams.
The opportunities will also be there for Clark to show off the skills he has used to dominate his D-League opponents. While not a scoring threat, Clark is a solid offensive contributor who Kobe Bryant can turn to now and again to knock down open shots.
He showed off his arsenal in a 29-point outburst earlier this week:
RGV Vipers @RGVVipers
Highlights of Earl Clark's 29 points in the Viper's 131-125 win over OKC tonight: http://t.co/37zg4CIC432014-11-23 06:01:21
With so many bodies now ailing, the Lakers are in deep trouble. Fans in Los Angeles are impatient and won't pay to watch their team struggle the way it is right now. Adding Clark isn't necessarily a game-changer, but he provides enough excitement to bring some people back to the arena.
Signing Clark also shows a commitment to winning, even during what will most certainly be a lost season. The Black Mamba is running out of time. Trying Clark out during a losing season is ideal because he has the opportunity to prove himself and earn a spot in next year's plans.
There are simply too many positives to address when talking about Clark's fit in L.A. The bonus is that he's healthy and playing at a high level.
Because Clark is looking for the minutes necessary to prove he still has what it takes to play in the NBA, the Lakers are on the verge of signing someone with the motivation to shock plenty of people.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn