SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz are trying to build a championship caliber team from the ground up. But will veteran guard Jordan Clarkson be a part of the team’s long-term plans?
Clarkson missed the last 17 games of the year with a finger injury. It’s something that doesn’t require off-season surgery. Clarkson does have a player option with the Jazz for 14.2 million next year, or he can opt out and test the free agent market. So what is Clarkson going to do?
“I don’t know,” Clarkson said. “It’s just a thing where we’ll all sit down with [agent] Rich Paul, my family and figure out what the best decision is for me.”
When he did play this season, Clarkson averaged career highs in points (20.8) and assists (4.5). He’ll turn 31 in June, but Clarkson says he’s got a lot of good years left in him.
“I could probably play until I’m like 50, honestly,” Clarkson said. “Just the way my body is, and I really don’t get out of shape ever.”
Utah’s 10-3 start got Jazz fans hopeful this year for an improbably playoff run, but especially after the trade deadline when the Jazz traded Mike Conley, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, Clarkson knew the team wanted to give the young guys more playing time.
“I think it was a mix of winning and seeing the young guys get this opportunity to grow as well,” Clarkson said. “So if you look at guys like Collin, Ochai, Walker coming back next year, all these guys have played in meaningful games.”
Clarkson says it is frustrating missing the NBA playoffs for the first time since joining the Jazz, but he’s optimistic about where this team is headed.
“Everybody this year really took steps and grew super fast,” Clarkson said. “So I think next year we’ll be back to our winning ways.”
Clarkson didn’t know how he’d feel about Utah when he arrived in December of 2019, but not only has he become a true fan favorite, he calls this place home.
“Since I got here the first day, it was kind of like eye-opening,” Clarkson said. “Not knowing much about Utah, the organization, the team and how people are, it’s been amazing.”