Lakers’ Jeremy Lin gets overshadowed in Jordan Clarkson’s rise
Jeremy Lin won’t say it directly, and neither will the Lakers, but the next 5 1/2 weeks seem like the final ones they’ll be together.
The point guard writing is on the Lakers’ wall, and Jordan Clarkson is holding the piece of chalk.
Lin wants a larger role than he has now, nothing he’ll admit publicly, and he’s been playing well enough to earn a solid chance with another team.
Friday was his first step backward in quite a while, a four-point, three-assist clunker against Memphis and an exception to the previous seven games in which he averaged 17.1 points and six assists.
Unfortunately for Lin, Clarkson’s rise has overshadowed him and the rookie is on the books for a relatively low $845,059 next season, making the Lakers unsure they want to spend big money on a free-agent point guard this summer.
That can still change, especially if they hear a fair offer for a top-tier point guard from an agent they can’t refuse, but the market has slimmed down with Goran Dragic possibly finding a new long-term home in Miami and Rajon Rondo stumbling a bit in Dallas.
What probably won’t change is Lin on the way out, looking for a new start with someone else.
“I’m not going to answer any of those free agency questions until after the season. I’ll discuss that later,” Lin said diplomatically after totaling three blocked shots and two steals against Memphis, part of an improved defensive effort for the 26-year-old.
He isn’t bitter. He’s been very supportive of Clarkson, most recently after a 25-point, six-assist effort Friday by last year’s 46th overall draft pick.
“To do it against a great team defense like Memphis, that’s hard to do on their floor,” Lin said. “The kid has grown up and has a ton of potential. It’s impressive.”
In a league in which the average salary is about $5.5 million, Lin will take a pay cut from the $14.9 million he makes this season. He has been in and out of the starting lineup many times, never quite feeling the warmth of Coach Byron Scott’s approval.
Then again, Scott was fairly complimentary of Lin before the Lakers’ 97-90 loss to Memphis.
“I think the last five, six games, Jeremy’s played extremely well at both ends of the floor,” Scott said, later adding Lin’s comfort level has risen. “He’s not thinking so much out there. That’s the biggest thing that we talked about months ago, was quit thinking so much and just play and react to the situation.”
Scott revealed he asked Lin to cut back on calling pick-and-roll plays.
“I just didn’t like the fact that you use it right when you come in the game. I wanted to move the ball first — let’s see how they play certain things first,” Scott said. “Let’s see how they guard pick-and-rolls when we get movement.”
Lin has adjusted appropriately, earning rare praise from his coach.
“He’s doing a much better job of running the offense,” Scott said.
Tough week for the Lakers, but a great week for their fans ... at least those who have divested themselves of the 2014-15 version. After a scary three-game winning streak, the Lakers went 0-4 this past week to safely maintain the NBA’s fourth-worst record. Big contest this week, though: New York on Thursday at Staples Center. May the worst team lose.
Below are standings of the five worst teams and their odds to land the No. 1 overall pick after the May 19 draft lottery.
1. New York (12-49, 25%)
2. Philadelphia (14-49, 19.9%)
3. Minnesota (14-47, 15.6%)
4. Lakers (16-45, 10.4%)
5. Orlando (20-43, 10.3%)
LAKERS VS. DALLAS
When: 6:30 p.m. PDT Sunday.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 16-45; Mavericks 40-24.
Record vs. Mavericks: 0-2.
Update: Dallas is only 5-5 over its last 10 games, fighting off injuries (Chandler Parsons, sprained ankle) and still trying to figure out how to blend Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo in the same backcourt. The Lakers got clubbed at home by the Mavericks in November, 140-106, but played much better at Dallas a month later in a 102-98 loss.
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