Lakers Trade Rumors: Los Angeles 'Confident' It Can Deal Jordan Clarkson

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2017

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers believe they can trade guard Jordan Clarkson to help free up salary-cap space, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported (h/t Lakers Nation's Harrison Faigen).

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers are content to wait until after the season to deal Clarkson, since he gives them their best chance of winning this year.

Los Angeles' first-round pick in 2018 will go to either the Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics, so the Lakers have little incentive to tank in 2017-18.

The Lakers' preference to wait on a Clarkson trade makes sense. The strategy would allow general manager Rob Pelinka even more time to gauge the market for Clarkson's value. He should also have a better idea as to whether the Lakers can realistically land a marquee free agent such as Paul George or LeBron James.

Teams may be more willing to take on Clarkson's contract in the offseason since he's set to make nearly $26 million over the next two seasons. Were another team to acquire the 25-year-old before the Feb. 8 deadline, it would have to pick up whatever's left of his $11.5 million salary this year as well.

By putting off a Clarkson trade, however, the Lakers run the risk of watching his value erode over the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

He's averaging a career-best 22.5 points per 36 minutes and shooting 33.7 percent from three-point range, according to Basketball Reference. In the Lakers' nine games this month, though, Clarkson is shooting 27.0 from beyond the arc. If that trend continues through to the end of the year, teams may be less willing to give up anything of value to take on Clarkson's contract.

Regardless of when he gets dealt, Clarkson's days in Los Angeles appear to be numbered as the Lakers prepare for a big offseason next summer.

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