Jordan Clarkson has agreed to a three-year, $55 million contract extension to remain with the Utah Jazz, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, ensuring that the second-leading scorer from a surprising attack that ranked 10th last season in offensive efficiency will be staying put in Salt Lake City for a while.
The re-up comes after Clarkson chose earlier this week to pick up his $14.3 million player option for next season, providing a foundation of which to build a longer-term extension to continue a partnership that’s proven fruitful for both player and team since Clarkson landed in Utah midway through the 2019-20 season. Over the ensuing campaigns, Clarkson has established himself as a favorite — including, evidently, of new Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who once reportedly kiboshed discussions of a deal that would’ve landed the former Laker back in L.A. — with his flair-filled, instant-offense game.
“He’s fun — the fans love him, but so do we,” Jazz CEO Danny Ainge told KSL Sports in January. “We talk about all the time after the games what a kick we get out of him and his talents. Talk about somebody that brings great joy to the game — Jordan does [that] as well as anybody.”
After spending the last six seasons coming off the bench as one of the premier reserve scorers in the sport — and winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-21 — Clarkson stepped into Utah’s starting lineup last season and set career highs in scoring and facilitating. The ninth-year guard out of Missouri averaged 20.8 points, 4.4 assists and 4 rebounds in 32.6 minutes per game while shooting 53% inside the arc, 33.8% beyond it and 81.6% from the free-throw line.
The 31-year-old quickly established himself in new head coach Will Hardy’s free-flowing offense as a force attacking downhill, ranking 12th in the NBA in drives to the basket per game and ninth in assists per game generated off those forays into the paint. And while ascendant All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen led the way in Utah’s offense, it was often Clarkson who stepped forward in the clutch. Only 11 players scored more total points than Clarkson when the score was within five points in the final five minutes of a game, according to NBA Advanced Stats; of those 11, only De’Aaron Fox, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Jalen Brunson and Joel Embiid shot a higher percentage from the floor on their crunch-time looks than Clarkson (46%).
Ainge and Co. find themselves with a bit of a logjam in the backcourt. Clarkson’s extension comes on the heels of Talen Horton-Tucker picking up his 2023-24 player option. Collin Sexton’s entering Year 2 of the four-year, $71 million extension he inked as part of the sign-and-trade deal last summer that sent Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. Rising sophomore Ochai Agbaji impressed with his two-way play after cracking Hardy’s rotation over the final three months of his rookie season. And the Jazz are less than two weeks removed from adding a pair of first-round picks in the backcourt — Baylor’s Keyonte George and Brice Sensabaugh out of Ohio State — who could push for minutes.
All things being equal, though, you’d rather have too many shot creators than not enough. Keeping Clarkson coming off his best season through what’s likely to be the balance of his prime at a salary that’ll make him somewhere around the 35th-highest-paid guard in the NBA feels like a good deal for both a player who’s found a comfortable home in the league and a team that, after a strong draft and swiping John Collins from Atlanta to add to a talented frontcourt, could push for a return to postseason play sooner rather than later.