The Los Angeles Lakers are looking for a trade partner to move Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. There may be a perfect fit: the Utah Jazz.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that both players are on the market and there is a “mutual desire” to find a suitor sooner rather than later. Eric Pincus recently explained what the current market looks like for the team (via Bleacher Report):
“For Clarkson, Nance or Randle, individually or in a package, the Lakers might be open to a move that yields expiring contracts and a first-round pick … But the Lakers may be looking for more than a straight salary dump.”
Before the season, he reported that the organization “is confident” in its ability to move the guard to create cap space. Pincus mentioned a few teams (Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz) as potential destinations for Clarkson.
Los Angeles is considered highly unlikely to retain free agents Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Corey Brewer. It wouldn’t be surprising if they waive players signed to smaller deals (e.g. Ivica Zubac, Tyler Ennis and Thomas Bryant) as well.
Even though Clarkson has value, the franchise must trade him before the deadline if they hope to take back expiring contracts. The front office is expected to be “aggressive in clearing cap space” and there is certainly a team that would appreciate his services.
Danny Leroux believes it is possible they might include Randle to help increase their overall return (via Sporting News):
“The front office could try to trade Randle at the February deadline. Doing so would allow the Lakers to extract some value, which could come in the form of a pick or their trade partner taking on a contract, ideally Clarkson’s or Deng’s. The acquiring team would have Randle and whomever else they acquired for the stretch run and playoffs, plus restricted rights on Randle.”
One possible destination for the duo is the Jazz, which is one of the teams that Pincus mentioned above. Derrick Favors would not be part of the future plans in Los Angeles but with a draft pick, he would provide exactly what the Lakers need.
Favors, who is considered expendable, has had trouble playing as a power forward next to Utah’s Rudy Gobert. They have been outscored by 10.0 points per 100 possessions when both are on the court at the same time.
According to Leroux in the article above, the Jazz “may be better served” trading Favors before he becomes a free agent this offseason, especially if they do not have plans to retain him. He would be a perfect expiring contract for the Lakers as well.
Utah would be able to pick up a natural power forward in Randle, who ranks Top 10 overall in putbacks (1.20 points per possession) this season. The Jazz have the third-lowest overall putback frequency, which shows they could use someone off the glass like Randle.
Randle is shooting 67.0 percent on field goals within five feet of the basket, which is the seventh-best among those with as many shot attempts. They also take the third-lowest total attempts per game from this distance.
Clarkson, however, is way more than just a throw-in to obtain Randle.
He is shooting 50.0 percent from the field on iso’s this year, which is the fourth-best among all players with as many one-on-one opportunities. The Jazz, once again, currently have the third-lowest score frequency on this play type.
His field goal percentage (41.9 percent) as the ball handler on pick-and-roll plays ranks Top 20 among those with as many attempts. Utah is the second-worst team on total points per possession for PnR plays from the ballhandler so far this season.
The guard ranked Top 10 (1.01 PPP) when running an isolation-based offense among high-volume players last season.
When packaged together, it’s possible the Lakers could get a lottery-protected first-round pick or an early second-round pick for Randle and Clarkson.
Utah would inherit the bird rights to Randle, a 23-year-old developing big man who pairs well with Gobert. They would also get a guard who can score in bunches off the bench to alleviate pressure from Donovan Mitchell.
They would inherit more weapons for a potential playoff push without sacrificing any of their core.