The Jazz could greatly benefit from bolstering their bench next season following a seven-game defeat to Denver this postseason, Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News writes.
Utah has a core of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic and others under contract for next season, though several bench players such as Jordan Clarkson and Emmanuel Mudiay are set to enter unrestricted free agency.
“I can’t tell the future,” Clarkson said. “I know I had a great experience here, great time here. I love my teammates here, so definitely see what happens. You know, it’s kind of my first time actually going into a free agency. Definitely a whole new experience for me.”
The Jazz hold Clarkson’s Bird rights and can offer him more money than other interested teams, with the 27-year-old averaging 15.2 points per game off the bench this season. It’s clear Utah will sport an impressive starting group next season, but the team’s ability to maintain (or improve) its depth will be vital toward achieving success.
“We’ll see how they come back once they get away and hopefully improve and reflect,” executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said when the team’s season ended. “We had a very successful G League season and we think a lot of those guys can provide internal solutions.”
Here are some other notes from the Western Conference tonight:
- Lakers center Dwight Howard demonstrated his “dark side” in Game 1 against the Nuggets, Sam Amick of The Athletic writes. Howard finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two blocks in his 16 minutes of play, controlling the game on both ends. “As soon as I step onto the court, I’m gonna let him know that I’m there,” Howard said as part of a larger quote, referring to his solid defense on Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
- William Guillory of The Athletic addresses a number of topics related to the Pelicans in his latest mailbag, including which free-agent veterans could help the team and whether the franchise should trade Jrue Holiday. New Orleans finished with just a 30-42 record and failed to qualify for the playoffs this season. The team hopes to reload next season with a core consisting of Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and others.
- Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com explores how to “stop” Lakers star LeBron James, discussing the subject with players and coaches who have eliminated him from the postseason in the past, such as Tayshaun Prince, Bruce Bowen, Stan Van Gundy and Jason Terry. “He’s an all-world playmaker — one of the best I’ve seen,” former Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said. “That’s his separator. By that point of his career [against Golden State], he almost always made the right play at the right time with the right efficiency.”