Four player option decisions will help shape the Jazz roster for next season, writes Trent Wood of The Deseret News. Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay, Talen Horton-Tucker and Damian Jones all have to determine soon if they will accept their salaries for 2023/24 or test the free agent market.
Jones is first in line, with a June 23 deadline to decide on his $2.6MM option. The 27-year-old center signed with the Lakers last summer and came to Utah in a three-team trade in February. He saw steady playing time as a back-up center with the Jazz, averaging 4.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 19 games.
The other three players have until June 29, and Wood sees Gay as the most likely to opt in as the 36-year-old almost certainly won’t top his $6.5MM salary in free agency. The others face tougher decisions, especially if Utah takes a guard in the draft, Wood adds. Horton-Tucker had an up-and-down season, and the team may not try to re-sign him if he opts out. Clarkson is a fan favorite and just put together one of his best NBA seasons, but he may not be in the long-term plans if the Jazz decide to rebuild, according to Wood.
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Timberwolves could look to trade Taurean Prince to help ease their salary crunch or possibly to acquire another ball-handler, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic states in a mailbag column. Prince has a $7.5MM salary for next season that becomes guaranteed on June 28.
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe profiles the journey of Nuggets coach Michael Malone from being fired in Sacramento to building an NBA champion in Denver. The son of former NBA coach Brendan Malone spent 20 years in the league before winning his first title. “To get to this point, to win a championship is just, as you reflect upon all the people who helped you get here,” Malone said. “This is like a many, many years-long process, and you don’t do it by yourself.”
- The Nuggets were thrilled to celebrate with their fans at Thursday’s victory parade as most of the players are first-time champions, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jamal Murray was focused on enjoying the experience rather than recording it for posterity. “The best part of the day was just being present,” he said. “It wasn’t about taking videos. It was just about being in the moment, appreciating the fans. … They give me energy, they give me life during the game, so I can only thank them so much.”