Utah Jazz fans that were losing sleep over the thought of losing shooting guard Jordan Clarkson can breathe a sigh of relief. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Clarkson was the sticking point in an exchange for Russell Westbrook in the trade that never happened with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“They had explored ways of landing Nets star Kyrie Irving during the offseason, discussed concepts with the Jazz around Bojan Bogdanovic prior to him being traded to the Pistons for Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee and even tried to land former Laker Jordan Clarkson from the Jazz before it was made clear that Utah owner Ryan Smith had no intentions of letting him go.”
Clarkson still has two years left in his contract where he's owed $27 million. The hiccup for the Jazz is Clarkson has a player option in 2022-23 where he could choose to test the free-agent market.
It remains to be seen what Clarkson will do, but if Smith is hell-bent on keeping him, getting a contract done this year would be in Utah’s best interest.
The report that Clarkson is off limits does raise some eyebrows, though. It's hard to believe that in the midst of a fire sale that the Jazz wouldn't be open to trading a player that regressed a bit in 2021-22 and is entering the back nine in his playing career.
Ultimately, keeping Clarkson could be a PR move, too, because a.) the Jazz want to paint a picture to potential free agents that players want to play in Salt Lake City, or b.) help Jazz fans with the sticker shock of losing Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in one season.
Logically, it makes more sense to make a trade sometime this year. Clarkson is 30 years old and will be well past his prime before the Jazz are back in the playoff conversation.
Also, the chances of Clarkson opting out are high, considering there'll be a raise in the salary cap next year by $11 million, paired with a weak pool of free agents. Clarkson is one of the best shot creators in the league, and his services won't come cheap.
Heading into the 2022-23 season, Clarkson is now the most beloved player on the roster, but let's not kid ourselves. If Jazz executive Danny Ainge sees a deal that benefits the Jazz, he should and will pull the trigger.
But for now, it seems pretty safe that Clarkson will remain in Salt Lake City to start the season.
Jazz fans can get a glimpse of Clarkson on Tuesday when the Jazz go on the road to take on Damion Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers at 7:00 pm MDT.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.