News came down the wire Monday indicating the Cavs had agreed to trade Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz for Dante Exum and a pair of second-round picks. The deal seems to be fair for both sides, with Clarkson going to a playoff contending team and the Cavs moving further under the luxury tax threshold.
Clarkson, who is on an expiring contract with a $13.4 million cap hit, was a great scoring option off the bench for the Cavs. On most occasions, he provided instant offense, be it by driving to the hoop or knocking down tough shots from the perimeter. He’ll be expected to play a similar role for the Jazz, who have one of the worst scoring benches in the NBA this season and just released Jeff Green due to his struggles off the pine.
In his 29 appearances with the Cavs this season, Clarkson racked up averages of 14.6 points on 44.2 percent shooting from the field (37.1 percent from beyond the arc), 2.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 23.0 minutes per outing.
In addition to the bench scoring woes, Mike Conley is currently sidelined due to a hamstring injury, so the 18-12 Jazz really needed a guard like Clarkson as they look to rise in the Western Conference standings. With Conley out for the foreseeable future, Clarkson could very well see an important role immediately upon arrival.
All in all, this is a deal that seems to benefit both parties. Cavs players and fans were sad to see Clarkson go, but he’s going to a well-run organization. The glowing words from Cavs players is a good sign for the Jazz as they work to integrate Clarkson into the fold:
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) December 24, 2019
“This one hurt!!!” Cavs All-Star Kevin Love wrote in an Instagram post, referring to Clarkson’s trade. “JC really became a close friend of mine the minute he got to Cleveland—the brotherhood is so much bigger than this game we play. Wish we could have shared the court for longer but I know you’ll put in work in this next chapter.”
As for Exum, he has had flashes of brilliance on the defensive end, but injuries and a limited offensive game have marred his career thus far. The 2014 No. 5 overall pick needed a fresh start, and the 24-year-old now has one.
When it comes to a grade in this transaction, we’ll give the Jazz a B. The deal is good but not a home run, with a pair of second-round picks going along with Exum perhaps a bit on the pricey side. Clarkson will need to use his work ethic in adjusting to Utah’s playbook, and hopefully he can help boost an offense that currently ranks 21st in the league, per NBA.com.