The Jazz provided the 24-hour guard Dante Exum and a pair of second-round Cavaliers patches for scorer Jordan Clarkson, gaining depth in front of an exhausting Western Conference seed play.
The move comes in a lucrative five-game series that pushed Utah into a Mavericks game for the No. 5 seed. Clarkson will have to give coach Quin Snyder’s tight spin some extra life with bumper Mike Conley on the shelf due to injury.
Cleveland, meanwhile, gets a lottery in 2014 at Exum, as well as the much-needed ammunition. This could be the first of a few mid-range moves for the rebuilding team.
MORE: SN NBA Athlete of the Decade
#Cavs get 2022 seconds from San Antonio and 2023 seconds from the Golden State in this Utah deal for Jordan Clarkson, sources say.
– Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) December 24, 2019
It’s only December, but the NBA season is officially underway. Here’s an in-depth look at how the Clarkson-for-Exum exchange could shake the Jazz and Cavaliers, as well as other teams in the league.
Why does Jazz want Jordan Clarkson?
With Conley injured and with no indication of when he will be 100 percent, Utah has restored Joe Ingles to his original lineup. While Ingles is developing into a distributor role alongside Donovan Mitchell, his previous duties as the team’s safest bench gun have been vacant. Enter Clarkson, a combo guard used to handle the ball and lead second in scoring (14.7 career points per game).
Clarkson is not a complete player and Utah will not ask him to be one. He is a famous defensive tackle and streak on the perimeter. But Jazz has a strong group of defenders who will develop in an attempt to hide Clarkson from difficult matchups (or at least to help). His only goal is to get buckets, something he has been able to do all six years in the NBA.
Rather than wait until next month to add an option to the bench, Jazz capitalized on the opportunity to carry a well-known commodity without giving up much of 2019-20.
How can Dante Exum fit into Cleveland’s rebuild?
There is a chance that Exum, the highly-injured No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 draft, will not be in Cleveland for long.
Last year, the Jazz talked about another prospect, Alec Burks, to the Cavaliers in exchange for Kyle Korver and two secondary options. Burks, who also fought to stay healthy in Utah, used his time for the Cavaliers as a playoff contender, and then spoke to Sacramento later in the campaign. If Exum performs well in its new home before the trade deadline, a marginal candidate who needs a backup point guard can look to buy it low. Signed by next season.
Cleveland, of course, would love to see Exum become a forward guard of the future and not just a commercial bait. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have yet to prove long-term answers for the Cavaliers and Exum will take the time to try to turn the long frame and instincts that attack the basket into consistent NBA production.
But similar to Burks, who has made a stellar role as a Golden State player this year, Exum can no longer hold the ceiling he once made for a high first round draft pick. The Australian native has not played in more than 42 games since the 2016-17 season, averaging just 2.2 points in 11 games for the Jazz this year.
Does this mean the Cavaliers will soon be trading Kevin Love?
While the Cavaliers report hearing commercial offers for Kevin Love, Clarkson’s move likely won’t affect the decision-making process for their star forward. There is no need to rush what is likely to go down as the most important transaction to rebuild, which should bring back either lottery draft picks or significant new talents.
Still, we can expect rumors of love to intensify as the February 6 deadline approaches.