The Los Angeles Lakers remained firm on obliging Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson to return to the NBA team in the middle of his possible stint with the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
The Lakers have already given the green light to Clarkson for his Gilas Pilipinas stint as long as he would be back in the United States on September 28, which is right at the smack of the Olympic qualifier.
Lakers Vice President of Public Relations John Black said that an extension beyond that date is unlikely. Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials already flew to the United States along with Clarkson to talk to the Lakers management about his possible stint with the national team not just for this year’s FIBA Asia but also in future tournaments.
“I would prefer not to answer specific, hypothetical questions, but you can presume the answer when I tell you that all of our players will be required to be with the team beginning September 28,” Black wrote in an email to InterAksyon.com.
Black also stressed that the Lakers won’t bar Clarkson from suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas as long as there’s no injury issue and its schedule doesn’t run in conflict with the NBA team’s activities.
“What I said is that we have no authority to make a decision as long as it doesn’t interfere with Lakers requirements. As of September 28, he will be required to be with the team. What he does prior to September 28 is up to him,” Black said.
The Lakers will fly to Hawaii on September 28 for a training camp, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell. The FIBA Asia preliminary round will start on September 23 until September 25, with the second round ending on September 29.
That means that if ever Clarkson, who is still seeking approval from FIBA about his eligibility for the Philippines, suits up for Gilas Pilipinas, he would only be available until September 25 against Kuwait and will miss the knockout rounds starting October 1 where the team needs him the most.
A second round pick in last year’s NBA draft, Clarkson is coming off a banner rookie season in which he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. The 23-year-old guard is seen as a vital part of the Lakers’ future as they prepare for the retirement of superstar Kobe Bryant.
Clarkson is also seeking a contract extension as his current rookie deal is set to expire next season.