More than 60 percent of the season has passed, and yet here the Utah Jazz remain as one of the contenders for a playoff spot in the congested Western Conference. Many expected the Jazz to fall off precipitously from their hot start, but Lauri Markkanen’s All-Star caliber season and the Jazz’ group of underrated hard workers and shotmakers have continued to prop up the Jazz’ season.

Nevertheless, the Jazz’ strong play has rendered their status before the NBA Trade Deadline rather unclear. Will the Jazz sell or buy? That is the question fans and pundits should get the answer to in the coming months. But for now, discussing what the Jazz must do remains a fun exercise.

In particular, the Jazz appear to have all the makings of a future playoff contender, with Lauri Markkanen fulfilling the potential teams saw in him prior to the 2017 NBA Draft and Walker Kessler emerging as Rudy Gobert 2.0. Thus, it’s not a surprise that the Jazz are reportedly looking to trade for pieces, such as John Collins and Dorian Finney-Smith, that could expedite their retooling timeline.

Collins, in particular, looks like a seamless fit in a frontcourt with Markkanen and perhaps Kelly Olynyk (the Atlanta Hawks forward could run into the same problems with Kessler as the ones he’s had with Clint Capela on offense).

Meanwhile, Finney-Smith is a plug and play option that could bolster the Jazz’ perimeter defense. After all, the Jazz don’t particularly have a lockdown defensive option on the perimeter apart from, perhaps, Jarred Vanderbilt.

Nevertheless, the time is ripe for the Jazz as well to sell off on some of their most valuable assets. It’ll be interesting to see how the Jazz manage this balancing act, but at the very least, these are the moves they would either regret passing on or pulling off as the NBA trade deadline looms.

Jazz will regret holding onto Jordan Clarkson and regret trading away Jarred Vanderbilt

The Jazz have at least five pieces that would draw significant interest in the trade market, namely Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley, Kelly Olynyk, and Jarred Vanderbilt. (Of course, that does not take into account Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and Walker Kessler, three pieces the Jazz would definitely like to keep.) And to the Jazz’ credit, they seem willing to part ways with almost all of those aforementioned players.

Except for Jordan Clarkson.

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The Jazz reportedly want to keep Clarkson in town, and some reports even stated that the Jazz offered the 6’4 guard a contract extension, which the Filipino-American guard declined. Even with this development, the Jazz are still holding out hope that they could convince Clarkson to re-sign in a few months’ time.

However, why should the Jazz run the risk of losing him for nothing, especially knowing their front office’s ability to acquire a ton of assets in return for their veteran talent?

Jordan Clarkson is averaging career-bests in points and assists, and he has proven this year that he is more than a microwave spark plug off the bench. Thus, he should net the Jazz a considerable trade return, even with his impending free agency.

There is something to be said about the value in keeping beloved players in town. And Jazz fans truly love Clarkson’s personality and his streaky scoring. But Salt Lake City loved Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell too, and the Jazz still traded those two away. For the best of the franchise, trading away Clarkson could end up being the shrewd asset management move.

Meanwhile, the Jazz’ reasoning behind their desire to trade away Jarred Vanderbilt is unclear. Vanderbilt is a versatile 6’9 forward who provides hustle, defense, and other intangibles that contribute to winning. And best of all, he’s only 23 years old.

Sure, his offensive game isn’t the best. He cannot create his own shot, he cannot handle the ball particularly well, and he doesn’t space the floor at a high level (even though his three-point shooting has improved). But Vanderbilt is the kind of role player that teams looking to make noise in the playoffs tend to keep.

And unlike Jordan Clarkson, Jarred Vanderbilt wouldn’t enter free agency until the end of next season, which means that he has plenty of time to improve his trade stock even further.

Vanderbilt has seen his minutes decline as the season has progressed. Walker Kessler’s emergence has relegated him to a more limited role off the bench, and his production has dipped as a result. Nonetheless, Vanderbilt could be a keeper piece who can grow alongside the Jazz’ young core as their front office, led by Danny Ainge, slowly puts together the pieces of the next great iteration of this storied franchise.