Jordan Clarkson Is Ready for the Biggest Offseason of His Life

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — It’s a sleepy afternoon as Jordan Clarkson—dressed in spotless white vans, modishly torn jeans and a self-graffitied white hoodie—plops down for lunch.

The most consistent player on a Los Angeles Lakers team that’s won 38 games since he was drafted, Clarkson is about to enter the busiest, most pivotal and financially significant summer of his life. On May 26, Nike ships him to Manila, Philippines. Then it’s off to Beijing on behalf of NBA Cares until the first week of June.

The philanthropic travels mean a lot to Clarkson, but just as notable is his looming restricted free agency on July 1. Whether another team extends an offer sheet or the Lakers make a firm long-term commitment on their own (the two most probable scenarios), his savings account will soon swell in a way most 46th overall picks never experience.

But the 23-year-old (his birthday is June 7) claims he doesn’t talk to his agent about such things, then chuckles when asked if he expects the entire process to induce any anxiety. In his eyes, the only franchise he’s ever played for is like family.

“So, I want to be here in L.A.,” Clarkson said. “This is the place where I want to call home, so I’m just in the gym and working. That’s all I can control—myself getting better. If I end up somewhere else or I stay in L.A., that’s what I’d love to do.”

After two years of hopelessness and unwatchable basketball, he’s excited about Luke Walton becoming Los Angeles’ new head coach. Clarkson happily ran around his house, yelling, when D’Angelo Russell first broke the news with a text message, perhaps a sign of the franchise’s upward trajectory.

But those are big-picture concepts, and right now Clarkson is understandably day-to-day. In the short term, his mind is focused on mo...

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