The Los Angeles Lakers have a long, hard road back to respectability, following the worst season in the team’s 50-plus-year history in L.A. With Brandon Ingram having been drafted last week as a potential franchise player of the future, the Lakers continued strengthening their lineup Thursday with two key roster moves, starting with the re-signing of guard Jordan Clarkson. A restricted free agent, Clarkson agreed to re-sign with the Lakers for four years and $50 million, according to a tweet from The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

From second-rounder to future star

Second-round picks often don’t amount to anything more than a bench role in the NBA. But in two seasons with the Lakers, Clarkson rose from D-League standout with the L.A. D-Fenders to quality reserve in his rookie year, where he averaged a commendable 11.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. A year later, he bumped up his averages to 15.5 points and 4.0 rebounds, though the addition of point guard D’Angelo Russell as the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft meant more minutes at the off-guard spot for Clarkson, whose assist numbers dropped to 2.4 per game in 2015-16.

With Clarkson remaining with the Lakers for the next four years, he and Russell should continue progressing as a youthful backcourt duo on a rebuilding Lakers team.

Lakers beef up frontcourt with Mozgov deal

Aside from the Clarkson re-signing, the Lakers also focused on one of last year’s trouble areas by agreeing to terms with center Timofey Mozgov. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers jumped on the deal just 45 minutes after the free agent period officially started, agreeing on a four-year, $64 million contract for the 29-year-old Russian big man.

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Despite playing a key role for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-15 season, knee problems had cost Mozgov his starting job in 2015-16, and he was buried deep in the bench when the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals.

As for potential moves this 2016 free agent season, the Times reported that the Lakers are “highly interested” in French wingman Nicolas Batum, who averaged a versatile 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists for the Charlotte Hornets in 2015-16.

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