Close-Knit Culture Kept Clarkson With Jazz

Dec 2, 2020, 3:29 PM
Jordan Clarkson against the Detroit Pistons...
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) dribbles around Detroit Pistons forward Thon Maker (7) during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. The Jazz won 104-81.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – During the NBA’s restart in the Orlando bubble, Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson said he would explore the free-agency market during the offseason, being that it was his first opportunity to truly do so.

Just one hour into free agency, Clarkson re-signed with the Jazz on $52 million deal that will keep the high-scoring sixth man in Utah for at least the next three seasons, with a player option for year four.

What made Clarkson choose to re-sign in Utah so quickly after his first real free-agency opportunity? First and foremost, it was his bond he’d formed with his Jazz teammates and coaches.

“The relationships with everybody,” Clarkson said. “The guys, they’ve been great. My relationship with coach [Quin Snyder]. And overall, just my fit in the city has been great to me as well.”

Clarkson was acquired by the Jazz last December in exchange for former lottery pick Dante Exum. The second unit sparkplug quickly made his impact known on the team, scoring 19 points during an impressive road win against the Los Angeles Clippers in his second game in a Jazz uniform.

The guard averaged 15.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in a Jazz uniform, and helped stabilize an otherwise shaky bench unit.

Clarkson Is A Key Piece In Utah Jazz Culture

Beyond his impact on the floor, several members of the Jazz organization said Clarkson has a noticeable positive impact on the team’s culture in the locker room.

“He’s a selfless guy. He’s had a huge impact on our team our chemistry,” Coach Snyder said during the team’s time in the bubble. “Our connection — everybody likes JC. It’s more than likes him, I think people appreciate him, and it’s not often you get to a coach a guy that’s as authentic as he is.”

When training camp opened earlier this week, Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey was quick to point out the effect Clarkson has had on relationships within the team.

“Jordan added not only a very significant scoring piece off the bench but really a conduit to relationships amongst players and coaches,” Lindsey added.

The unofficial leader of the Jazz ‘Good Vibe Tribe,’ Clarkson’s easy-going nature is a startling alter ego to his competitive nature on the floor. That duality may deserve credit as to why the guard connected so instantly to Snyder when he arrived in Utah.

Both Clarkson and Snyder have ties to the University of Missouri where Clarkson spent his final year of college. Snyder was the Tigers head coach from 1999 to 2006, though the two never overlapped.

The guard said he and his Jazz coach often talk about life outside of basketball, and the places the sport has taken them.

“Sometimes you’re not even talking about basketball,” Clarkson said. “We’re talking about life and experiences that we’ve had with basketball — where it’s taken us, why we think this way. Having that with a coach and him being that open with us, it’s just very rare.”

Wanting To Win In Utah

Beyond his relationships, Clarkson was not neglectful of his opportunity to win games with the Jazz.

In addition to his friendships in the state, Clarkson said he’s found a common identity with his teammates as they try to bring a championship to Utah.

“You look at the key guys key players here, we’re still young,” Clarkson said. “So that’s definitely given us some time to accomplish what we want to accomplish, and that’s win, and try to win a championship soon here.”

Clarkson is the latest of three Jazz players who seem to have their eyes set on bringing a championship to Salt Lake City.

On Friday, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell said winning a championship in the state was his top priority after agreeing to a five-year max contract extension.

“We need to find a way to get over that hump in the first round find a way to push and get to a championship,” Mitchell said. “That’s really on the forefront of my brain.”

On Tuesday, All-NBA center Rudy Gobert echoed his Jazz teammates.

“My goal is to win a championship here,” Gobert said. “It’s been my goal since I got here and that’s still the same.”

The Jazz begin their hopeful championship march on December 12 against the Phoenix Suns to open the preseason. The NBA regular season opens on December 22.

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Close-Knit Culture Kept Clarkson With Jazz