Jordan Clarkson is being viewed as a sixth man by new Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton, something that has reportedly upset the third-year guard.
Clarkson, who averaged 15.5 points and 4.0 rebounds last season, was projected to be the starting shooting guard, especially after he signed a four-year, $50 million contract this offseason.
However, Walton has been bringing Clarkson off the bench during the ongoing preseason and plans to continue with the plan going forward.
After Friday’s defeat to the Denver Nuggets, Walton compared Clarkson to Lamar Odom, who helped the Lakers capture two championships in 2009 and 2010, besides winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2011.
“I don’t look at it as really coming off the bench as much as the way Lamar (Odom) came off our bench but he was really a starter,” Walton told Lakers.com over the weekend.
“He (Odom) played big minutes, played the end of ball games. Ginobili did it for years in San Antonio… It’s really a way of getting a starter in with the second unit so you don’t have a lot of drop-off. But he’s very good at that role so far,” added Walton.
Jordan Clarkson unhappy?
During the first two games of the preseason, Clarkson led all Lakers in scoring wit a tally of 13.5 points per game at an impressive 47.6 percent shooting.
Walton has been starting veteran two-guard Lou Williams instead of Clarkson.
Last season, Clarkson started all 79 games under coach Byron Scott and was second in points per game behind retiring legend Kobe Bryant.
In many analysts’ eyes, Clarkson was consistently the Lakers’ best player, even though his defense was largely substandard.
On Saturday, Walton reiterated that Clarkson would come off the bench during Sunday’s rematch against the Denver Nuggets.
“I’ve loved what he’s (Clarkson) done so far. But if he continues to play well … I don’t look at it as really coming off the bench,” said Walton.
However, the Lakers coach said that the team’s starting 5 was still not set in stone.
“It’s two weeks in and still a long time to go before we make that final call.”
The Lakers begin their new season against the Houston Rockets in a home game on Oct. 27.
If Jordan Clarkson continues to come off the bench, would the guard request for a trade down the road?