Lakers

Lakers' Jordan Clarkson is OK with being outside the spotlight

Meet Jordan Clarkson, the forgotten Laker.

He wears jersey No. 6. He's from San Antonio. This is his second year in the NBA.

It's easy to overlook him because he falls so deep in the attention-getting pecking order of the Lakers. This is somewhat bizarre because he's their best player.

The Kobe Bryant goodbye tour usually carries the day, followed closely by the ever-present monitoring of the Lakers' young players — D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

It's sometimes amusing to hear what Nick Young says after games, not to mention his dubious shot selection over any particular 48 minutes, and you can't disregard Metta World Peace for entertainment value on and off the court, if he ever plays.

This is about where Clarkson falls into place, rarely grabbing headlines on a team that's 13-51.

Something new happened Sunday. Clarkson had another strong effort and this time everybody talked about the game itself.

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There was a .727 difference in win percentage between the Lakers and Golden State, making the Lakers' 112-95 victory the biggest upset in NBA history this late in the season.

Clarkson's 25 points, including four-for-six accuracy from three-point range, became postscripts. He wouldn't be insulted by it.

"I like to be in the shadows," he said recently. "I kind of just like to go about my business, just come out here, improve and stay out of the way. I'm fine with my role. I'm just trying to help us win games. I'm not about flashy stuff."

Clarkson, 23, is on track to get rewarded financially this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.

He can sign an offer sheet with another team for up to four years and almost $58 million, but the Lakers can match it. They want to keep him, which seems like the most likely outcome by far even though Clarkson has been overlooked "a lot" this season, according to Lakers Coach Byron Scott.

"You [reporters] kind of focus in on two or three guys and everybody tends to forget about him because it's his second year," Scott said. "I don't forget about him. I know how good he's been for us."

Scott appreciates another part of Clarkson's game.

"He takes everything that you tell him and he really tries to put it to work," Scott said, in particular movement without the ball. "He's one of those kids that when you jump on him, he doesn't sulk about it. He doesn't go into a little shell. He takes it like a professional."

Vitti's day

Longtime athletic trainer Gary Vitti will be honored April 3 when the Lakers host the Boston Celtics at Staples Center.

The Lakers plan to honor him before tipoff of the Boston game or at some point during it.

"It'll be all Celtic fans and I'll probably get booed," Vitti said jokingly.

The Lakers would have honored him during the April 13 regular-season finale but that became reserved for Bryant's send-off when he declared his intent to retire.

Vitti is retiring after 32 seasons with the Lakers and will remain with the team at least two more years as a consultant.

Will you sign this?

Scott has asked only one player for an autograph and a pair of game-worn shoes — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

That's about to change.

"I've already talked to Kobe, you know, 'I want some shoes and jerseys,'" Scott said, adding that they both better be autographed.

Scott was teammates with Abdul-Jabbar when the NBA's all-time leading scorer retired in 1989.

UP NEXT

LAKERS VS. ORLANDO MAGIC

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. PST.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 13-51; Magic 27-34 through Sunday.

Record vs. Magic: 0-1.

Update: Orlando's lingering hopes of a playoff spot suffered a setback with a 102-84 loss Friday to the uninspiring Phoenix Suns. Nik Vucevic's buzzer-beating 18-foot fadeaway gave the Magic a 101-99 victory over the Lakers in November.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 08, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Clarkson is OK outside spotlight - LAKERS REPORT" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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