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We are about six week away from the start of training camp and the Lakers are making moves to finalize their roster in the lead up to camp. While the team will likely carry as many as 20 players into the preseason, I expect the team to carry no more than 14 once the regular campaign starts.

Of those guys who I fully believe will make the final cut, one will surely be Jordan Clarkson, the rookie (point) guard who the Lakers selected with the 46th pick in this past draft. It was announced this week that Clarkson was officially signed to his rookie deal, a formality that many had been waiting for. The terms of the deal were not released, but per Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times and Basketball Insiders, Clarkson’s deal is a two year contract with the first season fully guaranteed at a shade over $500K and the second year not guaranteed at nearly $850K. Considering the Lakers paid $1.8 million for the right to even draft Clarkson, it’s no surprise that his contract is structured the way that it is.

I will admit, I have a slight irrationality towards Clarkson. His combination of size and athleticism paired with his good showing in Las Vegas on the summer league team, leave me thinking he has a future in this league. I have compared his game to Monta Ellis’ and while I don’t envision he will be as good as the former prep-to-pros standout, I do think Clarkson can find his niche as a combo guard who can score and run an offense capably enough to stick in the league for a long time. In a way, he’s a hybrid of two former Lakers’ 2nd round picks, bringing the size that Darius Morris offered and some of the scoring instinct that Andrew Goudelock displayed. What Clarkson has that neither of those two did is an NBA ready quickness (as well as more athleticism than either) — a trait that will surely help him as he adjusts to the pace and tempo of this league compared to what he saw in college.

With that tempo, Clarkson will need to adjust and learn how to run an NBA offense in a way that involves others rather than only looking for his own offense. He can likely survive as a scorer initially, but at some point defenses respond to what you are and you either adapt or fade away to the end of the bench as effectiveness wanes. I have hopes that Clarkson will overcome, but as a second round pick he has a lot of growing to do. I think he can do it, but as I noted before, I’m not fully rational about this one. Time will tell.

Though Clarkson inked his deal, the Lakers are still looking at other players at all positions. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Lakers worked out 8 players this week:

After missing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in July, the Lakers held a free agent workout Tuesday in Los Angeles. The workout included forward Michael Beasley; big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

The name that draws the most attention here, of course, is Michael Beasley’s. This is the 2nd workout the underachieving forward has had with the team. I don’t use that term to discredit Beasley, it is simply the most apt term to describe the former #2 overall pick who has burned bridges (and blunts) with nearly every team he’s come into contact with since he came into the league. Beasley possesses prodigious talent and an ability to let it escape him routinely via poor choices both on and off the court. There is a reason he’s unsigned at this stage of free agency and why he’ll be lucky to latch on with any team for a non-guaranteed minimum salary.

The others names on the list are a mix of big men who offer bulk and the hope of shot blocking and some nondescript guards. The name most people will recognize is Toney Douglass, the former Knick, Warrior, and Heat who will ply his craft in China in the immediate future. The name that interests me the most, however, is Ben Hansbrough, brother of former Pacer (and UNC College Player of the Year) Tyler Hansbrough. Ben went undrafted out of Notre Dame the year the Lakers selected the aforementioned Morris and Goudelock, taking his game to Europe rather than staying stateside. Hansbrough isn’t a very good athlete, but offers grit and and some shooting chops that could land him a gig in the NBA some day.

His name interests me, though, because even with Clarkson on board, the Lakers have to be exploring the idea of signing another point guard unless they want to go into the season having to either 1). depend on Steve Nash for minutes or 2). depend on playing Kobe or Xavier Henry out of position at PG for stretches. Some might be comfortable with just letting Clarkson play backup PG and that may very well be the plan. But one injury means the team is in the same hole they were last year with not enough guards on the roster and scrambling for answers via the D-League or street free agents.

We all saw how that worked out last year (no disrespect to Kendall Marshall), so the team will need to keep all their options open can continue to explore how to sure up the final roster as they transition from Summer, to camp, to the regular season.

The move that we looked at heading into the weekend became official on Monday when Ryan Kelly re-signed with the Lakers, signing his name to a two-year contract to return to the Lakers. From Eric Pincus of the LA Times:

Kelly will receive $1.65 million for the coming season and $1.72 million for 2015-16. Both years are fully guaranteed for a total of $3.37 million. The Lakers appear to have used part of their $2.7 million room exception on Kelly, leaving $1.08 million to spend on free agency.

The 48th overall pick from last season’s draft returns to a crowded front court where he will compete for minutes at power forward with rookie Julius Randle and amnesty waiver pick-up Carlos Boozer. Kelly may also see some minutes at small forward, though I still believe that his best position is at the big forward spot where his shooting and offensive skill set are better utilized against players who aren’t as used to defending players who play his style of game.

Kelly’s role, however, is a topic for another day. We still don’t even know who will be coaching the team, so exploring how he fits into the offense and how he can be best utilized within the scheme are a ways off. Instead, then, let’s shift our focus to this season’s second round pick, Jordan Clarkson.

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There are few things certain with the Lakers right now. Whether it’s their coaching search, their pursuit of free agents, or the production their holdover players can provide to next season’s roster this is a team with more questions than answers.

One open question, though, has been answered. After being drafted with the 7th overall draft, the questions shifted from Julius Randle’s talent to whether a pre-draft report about him potentially needing foot surgery would turn out to be true. On Wednesday the Lakers sent Randle to a foot specialist and, for what seems like the first time in a couple of seasons, the Lakers actually got some positive injury news:

This, of course, is a huge sigh of relief. Concerns that a screw would need to be removed and, with that, deal with a recovery period of up to 6 months were quite real. Instead, Randle will likely be in Las Vegas with his summer league mates, showing off his skills and generating excitement for the fans.

In the midst of all the wondering, at least the Lakers have something they can hang their hats on. And hopefully for a long time to come, too.

I will be completely honest, even though the Lakers were rumored to want to acquire a 2nd round pick I did not think they would be able to do so. I thought their night was over after selecting Julius Randle 7th overall. I was wrong.

Mid-way through the 2nd round, the Lakers found a team willing to dump their 2nd rounder and acquired the 46th pick in the draft from the Washington Wizards for cash considerations. With the Lakers on the clock, they selected Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson.

I don’t know much about Clarkson. A survey of his Draft Express page tells me that he’s a big point guard, standing 6’5″ in shoes with a more than respectable 6’8″ wingspan. He is good athlete, showing off an ability to finish above the rim when in the open court and through contact when the lane is crowded. Considering he also flashes a nice burst off the dribble due to his quickness, he looks to be a solid attack-style guard who can find his niche as guy who looks to get to the lane with the ball in his hands and a slasher when working off it.

All in all, I am happy with this pick for a variety of reasons. First, the Lakers need players to compete in camp and while they used resources to acquire this pick if he doesn’t pan out the team is only out some money. Considering the Lakers almost print money from the combination of their TV deal and gate receipts, this investment isn’t but a drop in the bucket when it comes to their overall resources. Second, however, is that this kid really looks like he has the physical tools that, if developed through hard work, can find a way to stick in the NBA.

A player with his combination of quickness and size is a nice template for a backcourt player in this league, especially if he can initiate an offense. If he can improve the accuracy on his jumper it will allow him to use his raw physical gifts to his advantage and find a role in the league as an off the bounce creator who can create his own shot against smaller counterparts.

Of course, all of that is far down the line. He must show that with his physical tools comes an ability to pick up the mental aspects of the game, take to coaching, and put in the work needed to improve in his weak areas. If he really will be a point guard, he must improve on his ability to create for others and show better instincts for making plays that help his teamates thrive. Further, he will need to show that his size and quickness that he deploys to his advantage offensively can be converted into defensive ability as well.

There is a lot of work to do, then. But, he will have his shot.

After he was drafted Mitch Kupchak mentioned that he was higher on their draft board than the 46th best prospect in this draft which lines up with Draft Express ranking him 31st on their board. If he can play more like a fringe first rounder, rather than a middling 2nd round pick, the Lakers may have just found them a player. Time will tell.

In any event, here are a couple of clips to get you familiar with Clarkson. The first is a clip of a pre-draft workout and interview where Clarkson is refining some of the skills he will need to have as a lead guard in this league. The second is full scouting report from Draft Express. Enjoy.

Julius Randle is your next Laker. After starring at the University of Kentucky and helping to lead them to the national championship game, Randle was selected by the Lakers with their 7th overal selection.

In our post leading up to the draft, this is what I said about Randle:

He has his detractors, but the more and more I have watched of him the more and more I believe he will be a very good player in this league for a long time. He has good size, skill, and by all accounts is a hard worker who has a drive to be a great player. Also, I find comfort in bigs who compete and have the motor he does to continue to get after it even when things go against him. Things may be hard for him in certain match ups, but I don’t see him as a guy who will quit. Instead I see a player who will take up the challenge and find a way to be effective. Other players have more upside, but this guy just seem to know how to play the game while finding ways to maximize his strengths. I’d be more than happy if he ended up a Laker.

So, needless to say, I am indeed happy. Randle provides post scoring, fantastic activity on the glass, and a non-stop motor that will serve him well for his entire career. We will have more analysis later, but for now comment away about your thoughts on the pick.

Welcome to the Lakers, Julius Randle.