As we had told you, this was the expected outcome despite the desperate pleas of Philippine basketball officials.
Lakers’ guard Jordan Clarkson will not compete for the Philippines in the Olympic qualifying FIBA Asia tournament that starts near the end of the month. The Philippines had to submit their roster for the event on Tuesday, and they did without Clarkson on it. From the press release:
“We did all that we could to have Jordan Clarkson join Gilas for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship but we are saddened to report that we are not able to beat the deadline to secure the necessary clearances on time.”
Clarkson’s mother is Filipino and because of that he was eligible to play for the Asian islands nation as one of their own (he didn’t have to become a naturalized citizen ala Andray Blatche).
The Lakers stood in the way, but for good reason.
The Lakers open training camp in Hawaii Sept. 29. The semi-finals of FIBA Asia is Oct. 1, the finals Oct. 3 — there’s a good chance the Philippines could get that far (they were finalists in this event four years ago). The Lakers want their young guard in camp, improving and gaining chemistry with his teammates. If he had played in the tournament, Clarkson likely would miss first three to six days of training camp. The Lakers were having none of it.
Financially this is likely also the right move for Clarkson. The second round pick will make $845,059 this season, a minimum salary deal. He will get a new contract extension next summer, one that is going to pay him a whole lot more. While injuries can happen anywhere at any time, would Clarkson take the risk now?
The Lakers took that question out of his hands. Now the Philippines has to qualify for Rio without the man who would have been their best player.