Jazz, Jordan Clarkson has multiple options on the table after the opt-out decision

The Utah Jazz roster is starting to take shape.

The league’s sources confirmed the athlete Starting guard Jordan Clarkson picked up the final year of his $14 million contract Thursday morning. With that said, Jazz and Clarkson have multiple options on the table.

Jazz now has 16 nodes in the list, and they’ll currently have to trim one player. Jazz now also has about $14 million in space left as we head into NBA free agency starting at 4pm MT on Friday.

Beyond that, here are the scenarios for what choosing Clarkson means.

Clarkson stays with Jazz and signs an extension

Clarkson went into the Utah community during his time with the Jazz. He has bought a house in Utah. It is popular with college and overseas professional basketball players in the state. He is personally close to owner Ryan Smith. Clarkson’s brother, Bear, is a well-known and popular DJ in the area. For much of the past season, Clarkson and Jazz have spoken of their mutual interest in expanding their partnership.

On the court, the Jazz is the first team Clarkson has truly found a home and culture that has enabled his talents as a basketball player. This started with Quin Snyder, who helped turn him into one of the sixth best players in the league. Last season he continued under Will Hardy, who made him a full-time starter and turned him into more of a playmaker for others than he was.

Clarkson has always been talented. His scoring ability is wide and deep. He is able to get buckets from all three levels of the field. He is one of the best underrated midfield players in the league. He is adept around the edge, thanks to his ability and patience. He is simply one of the best all-round scorers in the league. Last season, Clarkson was more than just a scorer. He averaged 21 points per game, to go along with four rebounds and four assists on the night. It was arguably Utah’s best team in close quarters and had a career offensive season.

The bigger question is how well he will fit into the current crew. Clarkson is 31, and the Jazz would like to keep their collegiate schedule for about two years either way for MVP Lauri Markkanen, who’s 26. Clearly, the Jazz is not against Clarkson being with the franchise after this summer or even after next season. Utah believes Clarkson is in the prime of his career and his game will only get old because his skill set is not based on athleticism.

However, if the Jazz and Clarkson work on an extension, it will be interesting to see how many years the franchise is willing to commit to. Because of the new collective bargaining agreement rules, it may not be wise to hand over many long-term contracts. Teams will want to be able to have as much financial flexibility as possible. like the athleteThe Jazz’s John Hollinger noted that the Jazz could add his remaining cap space this season to Clarkson’s existing contract, giving him a nice raise for next year but still keeping their books relatively clean going forward, giving both sides what they need. Possible extension.

(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Clarkson stays with the Jazz without an immediate extension

This scenario allows Clarkson to play this season as a contract season, and allows him and the Jazz to make their final decision to stay or go on the road for another year. This would give Clarkson and his agent, Rich Paul, the ability to clear the free agency scene for another season. This would give the Jazz the ability to see Clarkson match up with the current roster for another season.

What became somewhat apparent with the advent of free agency was the lack of money among the competitors. And if you were Clarkson, would you want to leave Utah if you weren’t leaving for a competitor? This is the question that will always need an answer. Teams that have real money, over $20 million a year, aren’t really in the mix in title contention. And when you look at what the Jazz have already done with the offseason, including trading John Collins, well, Clarkson might actually be on a playoff team.

Go deeper

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So, what would it look like if Clarkson stayed in Utah? This likely makes him the starting guard. The Jazz see Ochai Agbaji as the man they would like to see as their long-term shooting guard option, but Clarkson is currently the better basketball player. That would push Agbaji into the backup minutes at both shooting guard and small forward, which wouldn’t be a bad thing considering the Jazz need backup assists on both points. Clarkson’s survival would also give the Jazz a dual playmaker, someone who gets buckets but has demonstrated an ability to create for others.

However, Clarkson’s survival creates a bit of a deadlock. He and Colin Sexton have some overlap in terms of offensive mentality, if not actual skill set. Clarkson and Tallinn Horton-Tucker, who just picked up the final season of his contract, are certainly overlapping in the offensive mindset. We haven’t even got to rookie goalkeeper Keyonte George. So, four guys currently in the Utah backcourt share a similar mental configuration to go out and score any way they can. And that’s with the front court needing to feed the basketball to be really effective.

Jazz agrees to opt-in and trade-in

This makes sense if Clarkson really wants to get to a competitor or team somewhere more advanced than the Jazz or a team that will extend him and give him a big contract. Jazz is comfortable with Clarkson’s stretch, but somewhat relaxed. I’m not sure Utah is comfortable with $25 million a year.

And that makes sense for the Jazz if they had something to satisfy their need to add more playmaking. In a perfect world, Utah would have a sexton in place as their sixth man. This would allow Jazz to put Sexton where he can be most effective, which he makes for himself and others without the burden of having to run the offense. The world is imperfect, so Sexton may have to be a starter and run the crime. What is clear now is that the Jazz do not have a starting point on the list.

GM Justin Zanic and Hardy believe the league is heading away from the types of guards Chris Paul and Mike Conley who are floor generals who control every second of every possession. But even then, the Jazz really need a head guard on the roster. They simply don’t have one. Not a master guard at first, anyway.

Taking Clarkson’s talent and affordable contract and turning it into what Utah needs is definitely something to look at, should the opportunity arise.

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(Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

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