It’s been clear for awhile that the Utah Jazz are set on a complete rebuild. After years of playoff basketball under Quin Snyder that could never amount to a championship, Danny Ainge is blowing up the product and starting over.
With the rebuild in full swing, eyes turn to where some of the other veterans on the Jazz end up with just a handful of weeks left until trading camp. Players on the roster said to be available include Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Malik Beasley.
As FanNation’s Brett Siegel noted, “Clarkson has generated the most interest thus far,” adding that Memphis, Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Toronto were “teams with initial interest following Rudy Gobert’s departure earlier this offseason.”
It makes sense that the Kings had interest in Clarkson in the aftermath of the Utah-Minnesota blockbuster. For one, he’s an exceptionally talented scorer. And two, Sacramento came very close to snagging him in late 2019, but the opportunity was spoiled by the farcical shrewdness of owner Vivek Ranadive.
As Jason Anderson reported in The Bee back in April, per an unnamed source, “the Kings nearly acquired Jordan Clarkson from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade involving Yogi Ferrell, but they didn’t act fast enough due to Ranadive’s involvement.” Cleveland ended up sending the guard to Utah in a deal involving Dante Exum and two future second-round picks.
But with a few weeks before training camp and an interest in Utah’s front office to move him, is it possible the Kings trade for Jordan Clarkson?
Short answer: it’s very unlikely.
The immediate thing that probably strikes anyone who is familiar with Sacramento’s roster is that a 30 year-old guard is not exactly a pressing need.
The Kings happened to acquire shooters Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter this offseason, and Clarkson doesn’t flaunt defensive abilities that are much better than either of theirs. The current member of the Jazz probably only has a defensive edge over the shorter, less lengthy Monk. And one also can’t forget Terence Davis, who possesses scoring ability and a lengthy 6’9″ wingspan.
Plus, GM Monte McNair has expressed his interest in keeping the core of this team fairly young and around the same age (that is, roughly anywhere between 22, which is how old Keegan Murray is, and 26, which Domantas Sabonis is).
Of course, per Siegel’s observation, the Kings had interest in Clarkson immediately following the Gobert blockbuster, which came after Sac had gotten both Monk and Huerter. In fact, the news of Huerter’s trade broke just hours before the Gobert trade broke.
So the idea that the Kings have interest in Clarkson is not absurd. But the question remains how likely it is that a deal is made.
The Stepien Rule prevents teams from being without a first-round pick in consecutive drafts. Because the Huerter trade involved the Kings sacrificing a future first-rounder that could end up being the 2024 pick, the rule temporarily prohibits Sac from trading another one of their first-round picks.
It’s not entirely clear what Sacramento would have to give up to get Clarkson, but it would be a bit surprising to see the Kings, or anyone, give up a first-rounder for him.
Portland sacrificed a first-round pick to get Jerami Grant, but do Grant and Clarkson have equal value?
Christian Wood was sent to Dallas in a trade that landed the 2022 26th overall pick, Wendell Moore Jr., on the Rockets, but Wood is younger and is a better two-way talent than Clarkson.
But both of those guys have premium demand as stretch-4’s (Grant’s posted a .371 3P% over the last four seasons, and in that time, Wood’s posted a .383 percentage from deep).
Perhaps more comparable—though not perfect—would be guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was acquired by the Nuggets in a deal that swapped Monte Morris and Will Barton for KCP and Ish Smith, no picks involved.
So unless it involves second-rounders, it would involve players, right? If so, who?
Given the approximately $13 million Clarkson is owed, Sacramento would likely have to part—considering Ainge’s high standards for practically any trade—with Davion Mitchell and probably someone like a Terence Davis.
As the reader is probably realizing, Sacramento does not improve in that scenario.
The idea just doesn’t make sense. Not only is it hard to envision what it would look like, it’s, again, implausible that Clarkson is a prioritized target given the current makeup of the Kings roster.
Actually, if anything, Bojan Bogdanovic fits better in terms of positioning there on the wing. But don’t expect to see Sacramento pursue him. At 33 years-old, Bogdanovic has passed his prime. His three-point shooting remains a viable threat, but production from behind the arc has dropped year by year over the previous four seasons. And considering the importance of defense, the fact the veteran forward moves about as well as a water buffalo probably doesn’t raise eyebrows among McNair and company.
It should be obvious that nothing is impossible and nobody can underestimate what a professional sports team will do to get better, but it is very unlikely that the Kings land Jordan Clarkson—or any vets on the Jazz—in the remaining weeks of the offseason.