The Utah Jazz have promise, that's for sure.
Led by likely 2023 Most Improved Player of the Year Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz have already identified at least two other franchise building blocks in center Walker Kessler and guard Collin Sexton.
Kessler, the best shot-blocker in his class and an impact player on the interior looks like he can be the teams center of the future. Though he isn't built in the mold of a ‘unicorn' big man, players with his combination of size, strength, and instincts can make a living in the NBA. As a starter as well.
Just ask Memphis Grizzlies starting center Steven Adams or Toronto Raptors starting center Jakob Poetl.
Sexton is the only player currently on the roster whose contract is fully guaranteed past the 2023-24 season.
A high-octane combo guard with impressive work ethic, the more opportunity he's given to prove himself the more he does just that. The Jazz have made efforts to teach him how to play a more team-oriented style though, which may be the deciding factor in whether he starts or plays a Sixth Man role.
Aside from them are guards Talen Horton-Tucker, Ochai Agbaji, and Kris Dunn.
Agbaji, a more than able three-and-D player that can make moves off the dribble, is a rookie. Meanwhile, Dunn is having a redemption season, finally looking like the player drafted fifth overall in 2015.
However, THT — like Jordan Clarkson — has a player option on his contract for the 2023-24 season. This could force the Jazz to commit to him at a price point he hasn't quite proven himself to worth yet due to his hot-and-cold nature. A factor which could make him eligible for trade.
Nonetheless, he still isn't the player that the Jazz must trade in the 2023 offseason.
1 player the Jazz must trade in 2023 NBA offseason
Although he's grown as a player over the past few seasons, Clarkson should be the odd man out of the Jazz's rotation moving forward.
Yet, a talented and productive playmaker, Clarkson should be rewarded for his professionalism during the rebuild.
Considering that Clarkson is looking for an extension worth between $18-20 million annually, per Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune, a sign-and-trade may be worth exploring. Such a move could allow the Jazz to bolster their frontcourt with an athletic defender.
This provides the Jazz with more motive to move Clarkson, who is likely be more valuable in trades than Sexton or Horton-Tucker as a standalone player as he's more proven and has a more clear-cut role.
Who could the Jazz trade with?
If they do decide to go that route, veteran-laden teams like the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets could look to add Clarkson to their squad.
Heat forward Caleb Martin and Nuggets forward Zeke Nnaji could be the perfect complementary pieces between Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler, especially with their ability to stretch the floor. In fact, while Martin shoots 36.2 percent from 3-point range for his career, Nnaji shoots 39.4 percent.
Unfortunately, neither player has done on a high volume of opportunities. Yet, there's no reason to believe that they can't.
That said, whether or not Horton-Tucker was to negotiate a long-term elsewhere, the potential rotation for the Jazz would be stronger if they moved Clarkson for a player of their mold.
This is an example of a potential depth chart for the Jazz after free agency, sans their potential selections in the 2023 NBA Draft:
Kris Dunn – Talen Horton-Tucker
Collin Sexton – Ochai Agbaji
Lauri Markkanen – Simone Fontecchio – Rudy Gay
Caleb Martin/Zeke Nnaji – Kelly Olynyk
Walker Kessler – Damian Jones
Already a playoff-contender, there's a lot to like about this depth chart compared to the start of last season.
Primarily the perimeter defense, which will see a definitive boost with Horton-Tucker and Agbaji replacing Clarkson and Malik Beasley. The ability of both Martin and Nnaji to guard along the perimeter will also be a major improvement over what veteran center Kelly Olynyk offers defensively.
If Dunn and Markkanen can continue to play at a high level, and if Sexton can improve, the Jazz stand a strong chance of being an even more dangerous opponent.