Basketball / Sports

Lakers draft pick Randle relieved to be cleared to play

LOS ANGELES -- Waiting for Carmelo Anthony, Day 7 ...

While the Los Angeles Lakers were standing by for his final choice -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago? -- life moved onward in at least one area.

They held a summer league practice Monday at their training facility, where first-round draft pick Julius Randle spoke optimistically about his medically cleared right foot.

The Lakers were relieved he wouldn't need a screw to be replaced or removed from a surgery 18 months earlier.

Randle was relieved too after visiting foot specialist David Porter in Indiana last week.

"I kind of knew what the diagnosis was going to be as far as clearing me to play, but to finally have it over and that whole whirlwind of flying places and all that drama, to finally have that over with is definitely a relief and I can finally play basketball," he said Monday.

Randle was surprised that his foot became that much of an issue after averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds his only season at Kentucky.

"I didn't have any pain," he said. "It never really gave me any trouble last year whether it was in practice or in a game. It kind of caught me by surprise when that (injury) stuff came out."

When he will play, though, is a good question.

The Lakers begin summer league Friday in Las Vegas, but Randle will not be on the court until he signs with them.

The team is waiting because it can save about $500,000 if his signing is delayed, money that could be used toward free agents such as Anthony and Pau Gasol.

With the Lakers already allocating $23.5 million to Kobe Bryant next season and $9.7 million to Steve Nash, every dollar counts.

So Randle waits.

"We'll see," he said. "It's kind of really out of my hands right now. I'm ready to play whenever."

CLARKSON MOTIVATED

Jordan Clarkson waited on draft night. And waited. And waited.

Projected by many to be a late first-round pick, the point guard dropped into perilous territory for would-be NBA rookies -- the second round, land of nonguaranteed contracts.

The Lakers, though, were happy to take him 46th overall, paying the Washington Wizards $1.8 million for their draft spot. The Lakers didn't have a second-round pick because of the Nash trade.

Clarkson says he will remember the teams that passed on him.

"Yes sir," he said Monday. "That's just fuel to my fire."

Why?

"I feel like I'm one of the better point guards in the draft," he said. "Just falling out of the first round and being selected in the second round. ..."

Clarkson, 6 feet 5, showed good scoring touch his junior year at Missouri before slumping toward the end of it. He averaged 17.5 points for the season but shot better than 38.5 percent only once in his last nine games.

Clarkson is not the only Lakers point guard on the summer league team facing a nonguaranteed contract. Kendall Marshall will be there too after averaging eight points and 8.8 assists last season with the Lakers.

Marshall, 22, was signed in December and started off well but skidded badly in the scoring column in February, March and April, shooting only 37.4 percent over that span.

"I've been doing a lot of individual work, so I'm excited to get some five-on-five stuff going and put what I've been working on into action," Marshall said. "Using my body more, that's the main thing. Taking advantage of my size. And, of course, shooting the basketball."

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