Free agent profile: Earl Clark
Earl Clark, Orlando Magic power forward
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: Clark wasn’t expected to do much when the Magic acquired him in a mid-December trade that included more important parts than him. That included Orlando trading Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash for Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu.
He cemented his reputation at Louisville and his first two years at Phoenix as a player who relied solely on his athleticism and usually appeared out of shape. But Clark immediately impressed Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy with his work ethic and showcased his defensive potential: quick feet, long arms and a 6-10 frame and long arms. His defensive efforts included limiting Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant to 23 points on seven-of-22 shooting in a regular-season game.
Negatives: Clark didn’t receive consistent playing time because of mental lapses in learning Orlando’s defensive system. He also exhibited erratic shooting; consider the numbers from Hoopdata that reveal his percentages at shots from three to nine feet (7.7%), 10 to 15 feet (27.3%) and 16 to 23 feet (36%).
Verdict: Clark has expressed interest in returning to the Magic, and the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins indicate the Magic want him back. But that all depends on what price Clark is seeking. Clark would be a good option for the Lakers and they could probably pick him up on the cheap.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Orlando Magic forward Earl Clark was part of a multi-player trade last season that sent him from the Phoenix Suns to the Orlando Magic. Credit: Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS