Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Earl Clark, after recent talks to return to the Lakers, is signing a lucrative deal in China instead, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Clark is in the process of finalizing his release from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League to make the move to China to join the Shandong Lions.
Clark started 36 games with the Lakers in 2012-13 and was the D-League's player of the month in November. He entered into contract talks with the Lakers after L.A. lost swingman Xavier Henry to its third season-ending injury of the young season, but team officials decided against making an immediate roster move, convincing Clark to jump on the offer with Shandong since the Chinese season ends in time to return to the NBA in the spring.
In addition to L.A. losing Henry to a torn Achilles, Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg) are also out for the season. Forward Ryan Kelly (hamstring) likewise remains sidelined with a hamstring tear.
The Lakers, besides Clark, have auditioned a number of players in recent weeks but haven't signed any of them. They've looked at forwards Tyrus Thomas, Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller and guards Dwight Buycks and Gal Mekel, but Mekel has since been signed by the New Orleans Pelicans while the Lakers have been deliberating over their next move.
Among the issues for the Lakers is that they're already carrying the maximum 15 players, meaning they'd have to let someone under contract go if they opt to make a move. But they have been granted two injury exceptions from the league -- valued at $4.8 million (half of Nash's salary) and $1.5 million (half of Randle's) -- that they can use to sign a player or absorb one via trade. The exceptions both expire March 10 and can't be combined.