After more than five months without a single trade in the NBA, the silence broke on Monday evening. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a deal that would send veteran guard Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Dante Exum. In addition, the Jazz will reportedly send a pair of second-round draft picks to Cleveland.
Cleveland has agreed to trade Jordan Clarkson to Utah for Dante Exum, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 23, 2019
Utah will also send two future second round picks to Cleveland in the trade, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/mQBTD8h26k
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2019
The deal came to light approximately 10 minutes before the Cavaliers were scheduled to begin a game against the Atlanta Hawks in Cleveland, while the Jazz are in Miami to face the Heat on Monday evening. At first glance, this appears to be a deal for a playoff-bound team to stabilize itself with a scoring option, while a younger, rebuilding squad provides a fresh start to a former lottery pick.
Clarkson is on an expiring $13.4 million contract and that, in addition to his veteran status and scoring punch, could explain the impetus for the Jazz. Exum, in contrast, is under contract for just $9.6 million this season, but the former top-five selection is also under contract for the same $9.6 million figure for the 2020-21 season. Considering Exum is currently out of the rotation in Utah, his deal was clearly expendable, and the Jazz presumably see both an upgrade in the near term and the ability to clear salary cap space for next summer.
On the Cleveland side, there is a clear allure in grabbing a pair of picks that could be useful in the rebuild. Exum is also worth buying low on as a talented, yet injury plagued, guard that could reasonably complement both Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in the future.
It is still (very) early in trade season but, on Monday, the dam broke and a move was executed that could benefit both sides.