It may feel like Utah Jazz guards Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson just got to Salt Lake City, but they’re now the last two standing that were a regular part of last year's rotation.
Conley still has two years left on his contract and is penciled in as the opening-day starter at the point guard position. How many minutes the 16th-year veteran will receive is anybody’s guess.
The Jazz could give Conley the regular minutes that he’s accustomed to and then revisit the trade market as contenders can gauge where their team is trending. Injuries will occur, and the demand for Conley could change at a moment's notice.
The other option is to have Conley defer his playing time to younger players that need live reps to develop. Ultimately, the Jazz will want newly acquired guard Collin Sexton to take over his position, but at the present time, there’s no clear path of when that will happen.
Clarkson's future in Salt Lake City is also murky. The former Sixth Man of the Year has a player option in 2023-24 at $14 million. The sharp-shooting guard is still one of the best shot creators in the game, but at 30 years old, 2023 may be the last chance of cashing in on a lucrative multi-year contract.
The Jazz could try and sign Clarkson to a multi-year deal before his player option, or trade him to a contender at the deadline.
Tony Jones of The Athletic shared his thoughts on why a Clarkson re-sign makes sense on espn700 with Bill Riley.
"I would say the Jazz are more likely to extend him than trade him... I think the Jazz believe he can be a real part of recapturing the culture they lost last year. They really value Jordan."
"He's just a prince of a guy in the locker room... He loves Utah and he wants to be in Utah. I think the Jazz can use guys who actually want to be here. Considering that Donovan [Mitchell] didn't want to be here and, through different channels, made that really clear."
Clarkson has a tough decision ahead of him on the $14 million in 2023-24. He could roll the dice in next year's free-agent market or opt-in with the team he’s playing for. How he performs on the court this year will ultimately decide which path to take.
It’s still unknown how new head coach Will Hardy will approach the 2022-23 season. The Jazz front office is on record saying they’re going to win as many games as possible, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The race to a bottom-five team might end up trumping what’s in the best interest of Conley and Clarkson.
Jazz fans will get answers soon as the home opener is now just three weeks away when they host the Denver Nuggets at Vivint arena.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.