Free agency hasn’t even officially started yet, but the Laker fans have already sharpened their pitch forks. Countless reports have come out that (insert free agent here) will not meet with the Lakers. Lakers fans are up in arms already, though not much has really come out of the Lakers camp at all. What we can confirm is that the Lakers have extended qualifying offers to Tarik Black, Marcelo Huertas, and Jordan Clarkson.
PRESS RELEASE: Lakers Extend Qualifying Offers to Black, Clarkson, and Huertas. https://t.co/4x2UOzWwEB
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 30, 2016
This officially makes those three players restricted free agents. It is likely that Black and Huertas accept their offers, but we won’t know for sure until the Lakers confirm it.
Clarkson is obviously the most talented out of those three and he will likely receive the most interest. The second year guard out of Missouri has surpassed all expectations. Selected 46th overall in a purchased pick, he has been the consensus steal of the 2014 draft. Being a second round draft pick, Clarkson is also subject to the Arenas rule. (Luke Adams of Hoop rumors)
The NBA introduced the Gilbert Arenas provision in the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement as a way to help teams to keep their young restricted free agents who aren’t coming off rookie scale contract.
Why is this important? Now that Clarkson has officially been made a restricted free agent, at least one team is already lining up to give him an offer: (@sam_amick)
With Lakers announcing Jordan Clarkson is now a restricted free agent, something to watch for: Philly possibly coming with an offer sheet.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 30, 2016
Now, before you scream and shout that this marks another free agency loss for the Lakers, it could potentially be a good thing. That said, it can also be a bad thing down the line. As Eric Pincus can explain (L.A Times):
While another franchise can pay him up to $5.9 million in the second year, his salary for the third and fourth seasons could jump significantly to $22.7 million and $23.6 million for a total of $57.8 million — or $14.5 million on average.
If the Lakers match the offer, they could have a solid guard at a very inexpensive price. However, the back end of the contract could be very hefty if he doesn’t continue to be the solid player he is now. Before you panic about Clarkson at the $22-$23 million mark, the cap is poised to break $127 million by then. A $22 Million dollar contract then would equate to a $14 million dollar contract now. If Clarkson continues to improve, then he could be worth more by that time.
For all your Purple and Gold free agency news, keep it here on Lakers Pulse.