Los Angeles Lakers extend qualifying offers to three players

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The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to make a marked improvement next season after propping up the Western Conference during Kobe Bryant's retirement year.

Kobe is now gone and it is time for the franchise to look forward under their new head coach Luke Walton. With free agency upon us, there will be a number of movements going on behind the scenes as the Purple and Gold look to build a team capable of challenging for a playoff spot.

The moratorium period ends on July 7 and teams will officially be able to announce who has re-signed, who has left and who has joined their plans for 2016/17. General manager Mitch Kupchak recently announced that Los Angeles had extended qualifying offers to three current players; Tarik Black, Jordan Clarkson and Marcelo Huertas, making them restricted free agents.

Clarkson is easily the biggest name and has established himself as an exciting up-and-coming two guard on the west coast. Having joined the franchise from the Washington Wizards on draft night in 2014, he claimed All-Rookie First Team honours in 2015 and was a participant in the Rising Star Challenge of 2016.

During his two seasons at the Staples Center, the 24-year-old made 138 appearances - 117 of those coming in the starting five - averaging 14 points, 2.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds while shooting a 48.2 effective field goal percentage.

He established himself as a key part of Los Angeles' future despite the franchise winning just 17 games in the previous campaign. Much of the talk throughout the year involved building a team around the trio of Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. It is clear to see why as he dropped 15.5 points a night, shooting an effective field goal percentage of 48.3, to go with his four rebounds and 2.4 assists per 32.3 minutes on the hardwood.

Former FC Barcelona guard Marcelo Huertas played a role off the bench last season and, at the age of 33, will be hoping he has one or two years left in the NBA. His only season in the big league saw him play 53 times - all from the bench - while averaging 4.5 points and 3.4 assists with a 45.7 effective field goal percentage.

24-year-old big man, Black, has been with the Lakers since being claimed off waivers in 2014. He has spent time with their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and has made 77 appearances - 27 of those from the start - in the famous colours of L.A.

Last season he was limited to 39 games, playing just 12.7 minutes a night, as he averaged 3.4 points and four rebounds without starting a single game. The undrafted product, who spent time with the Houston Rockets before moving to California, will be hoping he can finally kick-start his NBA career.

Western Conference
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
D'Angelo Russell
Kobe Bryant

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