The Lakers face one of their easiest decisions of the summer on Saturday, the deadline to cut second-year guard Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson, selected 46th overall in the 2014 NBA draft, is under contract for the 2015-16 season, but for a non-guaranteed $845,059.
According to the terms of his contract, Clarkson’s contract locks in for the year, provided the Lakers do not waive him on or by Aug. 1.
Naturally, the Lakers will keep one of last season’s best rookies, as confirmed to The Times by a team spokesman.
After awaiting an opportunity to play for the first part of the season, Clarkson became the team’s primary point guard for most of the second half. Over that stretch, the Missouri guard averaged 15.8 points, five assists and 4.2 rebounds a game, earning a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first team.
In the coming season, Clarkson may slide over to shooting guard next to rookie D’Angelo Russell, with veteran Kobe Bryant moving to small forward, although Coach Byron Scott recently said his rotation will be determined in training camp.
Because Clarkson played with the Lakers’ summer league squad in Las Vegas earlier in the month, the guarantee date of his contract moved up from opening night (approximately Oct. 31) to the first day of August.
Once the Lakers let the deadline pass on Saturday, the team will have 14 players under contract, with two (Tarik Black and Jabari Brown) on similar non-guaranteed $845,059 deals.
The Lakers don’t need to decide on Black or Brown for the season until early 2016. Both could make it to opening night, only to be cut by Jan. 10.
With the additions of Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown and Russell, the squad has a payroll of $71.1 million for the coming season.
The Lakers can carry 15 players to opening night, but are expected to bring between 17 and 20 to camp, convening in late September.