On Monday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers invited reporters to meet Jordan Clarkson and the remainder of the Lakers’ Summer League squad. Clarkson figures to make the Lakers’ regular season roster considering the team shelled out $1.8 million to the Washington Wizards to make the 46th overall pick.
Clarkson, who is half-Filipino, has already gained a strong following in the Pacific islands, and several reporters of Filipino decent and related to Filipino media outlets helped welcome the rookie to LA. However, rumors of the 22-year-old being born in the Philippines were greatly exaggerated, as the junior out of Missouri explained that he was born in the United States, but his mother was from the Philippines.
Prior to being bombarded with questions of heritage, Clarkson held his no. 5 Lakers’ jersey and posed alongside Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak for a couple minutes. With free agency rumors setting fire to the news wires, Kupchak quickly excused himself and left reporters to vet the rookie.
“I’m just going to come in here and work hard, try to be the best that I can be,” Clarkson said in his first in-person press conference with the LA media. “This is a blessing. I couldn’t tell you how I’m feeling right now.”
When asked about his Filipino heritage, Clarkson took it to be a source of inspiration.
“I got the country (The Philippines) behind me. It feels great,” Clarkson said as he stood on the Lakers’ practice court surrounded by reporters. “That’s also driving me, to be one of the first (Filipinos in the NBA).”
Beyond Clarkson, the Lakers’ Summer League squad also included the no. 7 pick Julius Randle and returning point guard Kendall Marshall.
“It’s been a long offseason,” Marshall said on Monday. “I feel like I still have a lot to prove.”
When asked about the lack of clarity regarding a head coach entering the Summer League, Marshall expressed his personal frustrations with the uncertainty. “One thing I take pride in as a point guard is knowing my offense and my defense like the back of my hand, but it’s kind of hard to do that right now.”
Randle, who did not take part in Monday’s scrimmage, also met with reporters at the facility.
“It’s not an issue at all,” Randle repeated a couple times when asked about his foot.
The 19-year-old explained that he felt no pain and had absolutely no discomfort during his college career. The Lakers sent Randle to multiple specialists who all cleared the young prospect. Randle said he was surprised that his foot had even been a story entering the draft, but the story may have ultimately played a factor in the talented forward being available at the no. 7 spot.
The Lakers will play their first NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas on July 11. Randle said he was unsure if he would be playing, as it was the coaches’ decision. The Lakers’ Summer League team will be coached by Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis.