EVEN as Jordan Clarkson’s status with Gilas Pilipinas remains up in the air, his future with the post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers team is a bit clearer.
Lakers Nation lead reporter Serena Winters reported that the Filipino-American combo guard, a restricted free agent after this season, wants to remain with the Purple and Gold.
“I feel confident that I’ll be back here. I want to be here,” the 23-year-old Clarkson told Winters after his exit interview with the team shortly after their 17-65 season, one of the worst in franchise history.
“I don’t wanna bounce around from team to team. I want to be around what I can call home and leave my mark, my legacy,” said the San Antonio, Texas native who described the Lakers fanbase as the “best in the world”.
After a reporter asked if he was playing for the Philippines, Clarkson answered, “Ohhh. I would love to but it kinda conflicts with free agency and stuff. They kinda run in with the qualifiers. But I definitely want to be a part of that sometime. I might work out this summer but definitely want to be a part of (Gilas Pilipinas) though.”
Philippine basketball officials recently said it was improbable that Clarkson would be able to participate as part of the national team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila come July.
Starting all 79 games he played, the 6-5 Clarkson was the Lakers’ second leading scorer after Kobe and averaged 15.5 points, 4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and one steal in 32 minutes of action. He scored 20 or more points 20 times this season playing mostly in Bryant’s old shooting guard slot.
Clarkson added that he will focus on “improving defensively” this summer.
Kobe Bryant has reached out to the Lakers’ core group of Clarkson, power forward Julius Randle and point guard D’Angelo Russell. The recently retired NBA superstar said he wanted to be in contact with the young players and workout with them in the offseason to help develop their skills and chemistry.
“We gotta work together if we really want this thing to come full circle and be back on the right track. It’s something we gonna do.”
“It was great. It was amazing. I’ll remember and cherish this for the rest of my life. It’s almost like the best ending to a movie and we saw the making of it the whole year,” Clarkson said of Kobe’s final season.
Clarkson was the recipient of Kobe’s last stat- an assist that led to a breakaway dunk that sealed the Lakers’ 101-95 win against the Utah Jazz.
“It was cool. It was awesome and it was a dunk too. But to be honest with you I don’t even remember anything I did last night because Kobe was simply amazing. I was playing but I was still watching,” said Clarkson, who added 12 points to Kobe’s 60 in his farewell game.
After the buzzer sounded, the Black Mamba hugged Clarkson and all the young players in a huddle.
“It was kinda sad but it’s one of those moments I’ll always remember.”