first_imgCORONA >> A whirlwind of uncertainty has hovered over Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson this offseason. He is spending the months before his fourth NBA season training for a role that remains undefined for a team that might or might not keep him.The Lakers are mulling who to select with their No. 2 pick in next week’s NBA draft — either UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, Kansas guard/forward Josh Jackson or Washington guard Markelle Fultz. But the team also has proposed and listened to potential trades, having made it clear that anyone on the roster, with the exception of second-year forward Brandon Ingram, is available for the right price.Clarkson and guard D’Angelo Russell are among the most likely trade candidates given that framework, but Clarkson reacted with a shrug on Friday.“I try to keep my nose down and keep grinding,” Clarkson said. “I keep working and having fun.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersClarkson appeared to have fun at his youth basketball camp on Friday at Centennial High in Corona, where the proceeds benefit his JC Cares Foundation, which helps charities in Los Angeles and San Antonio. In between drills, Clarkson outlined his value to the Lakers, regardless of how they tinker with their roster this summer.Clarkson mentioned the Golden State Warriors “(created) the blueprint for a lot of teams,” noting their talented and versatile lineup in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. Clarkson believes any of the Lakers’ potential draft targets would give the Lakers more positional flexibility.“If we go anywhere in the draft, it’s going to be good for us,” Clarkson said. “It does a lot of good things for us. We’ll be young and grow together. It’s a lot of options for us. We score. But now we understand the game with where our spots are on the floor to score. I feel like it’s going to be great for us no matter who we draft.”If the Lakers select a point guard, they plan to move Russell to shooting guard. That likely means Clarkson remains a reserve after spending most of last season in that capacity. After morphing from the Lakers’ No. 46 pick to a definitive starter during his rookie season in 2014-15, Clarkson went from a starting shooting guard in 2015-16 to a reserve at both positions last season.“It’s tough being able to shift your mind during the years and change roles,” said Clarkson, who averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting on 44.5 percent from the field last season. “I work through it and have made it happen. I feel like I’m one of those guys that can impact the game in any way.” Clarkson has started in place of an injured Kobe Bryant (2014-15), shared the starting backcourt with Bryant (2015-16) and come off the bench alongside high-volume scorer Lou Williams (2016-17). Through that journey, Clarkson acknowledged it bothers him “a little bit” that some in NBA circles project his long-term future as just a role player coming off the bench.“Seeing all that stuff is definitely motivation, to be honest with you,” Clarkson said. “It’s funny because people just talk. It is what it is. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the world now. If I’m going to be a sixth man, I’m going to go for Sixth Man of the Year. If I’m a starter, I’m definitely trying to be a great player either way. If it happens, whatever way it is, I’m going to be great at it.”Clarkson prefers to start but said he will accept either role without complaint.“I’m trying to get the best out of my opportunities,” he said.Some of those opportunities could hinge on how well Clarkson plays alongside Russell. Lakers coach Luke Walton mostly avoided featuring the pair together last season, believing they struggled with sharing ball-handling duties and excelling defensively. Walton gave them more playing time together toward the end of the season, often featuring Clarkson as the primary ball handler.“It was great for us. We grew a lot together toward those last games,” Clarkson said. “We just needed the opportunity to grow in that area. I understand where everybody comes from, with the organization trying to win games. But toward the end of the year, you saw us working together. It was great.”What is the key for Clarkson and Russell to become great together consistently?“A lot of it is just communicating,” Clarkson said. “Offensively, sometimes it was a problem because we’re both aggressive and want to score. Defensively, it’s where it has to come from. When we come together, that’s where it hurts the most.”Clarkson has come together with Russell to train this offseason. They have worked out at local beaches, something both recently documented on their Instagram accounts.“It was good. It was hard,” Clarkson said, smiling. “We made it look cool. But it wasn’t cool at all.”That’s because Clarkson and Russell spent that time completing running drills, defensive slides and back pedaling on sand dunes.“It’s tough. We try to kill ourselves when we’re out there,” Clarkson said. “The beach helps us get through it. We survived it.”Will Clarkson survive the trade talk, though? Instead of worrying whether the Lakers value him as much as when they re-signed him to a four-year, $50 million deal last summer, Clarkson is spending most of the offseason with a basketball in his hand at the Lakers’ training facility or with his personal trainer, Drew Hanlen. Clarkson is focused on improving his left hand, his pace and his defense as well as communication skills during pick-up scrimmages with his teammates.He will hold another camp in Los Angeles (July 26-28), a clinic in San Antonio (Aug. 4) and might visit the Philippines. By then, Clarkson should have clarity on his standing and role with the Lakers.Until then, Clarkson pledged to maintain the same mindset that propelled him this far.“It’s about going out there, competing and trying to produce,” he said.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more