Lakers Gear Up for Splashy Summer and Avoid Nuclear Winter

Dan Favale

Atlanta Hawks Receive: C Andrew Bogut, PG/SG Jordan Clarkson

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SG/SF Marco Belinelli, C Dewayne Dedmon

If the Los Angeles Lakers have their way, they won’t trade Jordan Clarkson until the summer. As ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski explained (h/t Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton):

“They believe they can trade Jordan Clarkson and get his money off. They prefer not to do it at the trade deadline. Clarkson has helped them win games this year, and because they don’t have their pick, they want to win as many games as they can. But there’s got to be a sequencing here. And it gets back to, are they going to chase one max-salary slot, or two?”

Clarkson cannot be part of the Lakers’ future beyond this season if they’re still bent on chiseling out two max-contract slots—particularly if, as Wojnarowski said, they’re being asked to cough up multiple first-rounders in prospective Luol Deng salary dumps.

Renouncing all their other free agents, including Julius Randle, gets them past the $45 million threshold. Lopping off Clarkson’s $12.5 million carries them past $57 million—a little more than $8 million shy of affording the LeBron James-Paul George pipe dream.

Waiting to move Clarkson until this summer is fine. But the Lakers can most definitely move him now, while he’s tallying a career-high true shooting percentage and player efficiency rating and garnering Sixth Man of the Year consideration.

Dewayne Dedmon and Marco Belinelli fit the bill for what they’ll need in return—cheap placeholders who advance this season’s win total. Dedmon is an especially big-time get if he recovers from the left leg injury that has relegated him to bystander duty since Nov. 25. Los Angeles already showed interest in Nerlens Noel, according to Wojnarowski. Dedmon is cut from the same mold as a rim-runner, yet he boasts three-point range and more disciplined defensive rotations.

Though Dedmon is expected to decline his player option for next season, it won’t be the end of the world if he sticks around. The Lakers can circumvent his $6.3 million hold as part of their max-contract party. Belinelli, meanwhile, comes on an expiring deal and brings a 38.2 percent three-point clip to the NBA’s worst outside-shooting team.

Taking on the final two years and $25.9 million of Clarkson’s agreement isn’t asking too much of the Atlanta Hawks. They’re in the perfect spot, with the league’s worst record, to roll the dice on a 25-year-old guard who suits their timeline better than their current No. 2 playmaker, Kent Bazemore.

Unless otherwise cited, all stats are courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference and current leading into games on Dec. 26.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast co-hosted by B/R’s Andrew Bailey.