The Utah Jazz made an improbable run to the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs last year, and they’re making sure they don’t change a thing. The Jazz agreed to a 3 year/$33 Million dollar contract with their promising young point guard Dante Exum today.
Strong deal in a tight marketplace for a gifted young talent who has fought injuries and remains significant part of Utah's future. https://t.co/IE1fd4Yefn— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 3, 2018
According to Adrian Wojnarowski:
Exum, 22, withstood two lengthy court absences in his young Jazz career -- including a torn ACL that cost him the entire 2015-16 season -- to earn a new deal that reflects the franchise’s belief that he will still honor the immense potential that pushed GM Dennis Lindsey to select him fifth overall in the 2014 NBA draft.
Dante Exum has consistently shown flashes of his immense talent and ability. The consistent thread of Exum’s short NBA career thus far has been injuries. An ACL injury after his rookie year stole his sophomore NBA season away from him while a shoulder injury by the fall of TJ Warren took most of his fourth season away. That fourth season looked as though it would be Exum’s breakout season as he had shown out in Summer League and Preseason.
When Dante Exum returned back from injury this season he averaged 8.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in only 16.8 minutes a game. His per minute numbers have risen every single season he has been able to play. His defensive potential was on full display in the 2018 NBA Playoffs as he consistently frustrated James Harden and had a good series against the 2nd best team in the NBA.
The Utah Jazz will be looking for Exum to reach his potential on this deal. While it’s easy to point to the past and question this, the Utah Jazz have seen more of Exum than anyone else behind the scenes. They have been able to identify strong talent and be patient with their own development curves. They’ve also been aggressive to move past players who they believe have plateau’d like Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles, Trey Burke, and Enes Kanter. It’s important to remember that Dante Exum is only 22 years old. He has a lot of development still ahead of him. This deal will keep Exum with the Utah Jazz until he is 25, a year younger than Derrick Favors is now.
Dante Exum will also get to have his second consecutive offseason of being healthy and being able to work on his game and not have to focus on rehabilitation from an injury. That’s going to go a long way in improving. Dennis Lindsey would often talk how both Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum’s injuries played a big and equal role in their terrible descent before January 22nd. The Jazz front office believes Dante Exum is as big a part of Utah’s future as Rudy Gobert.
More importantly, Dennis Lindsey has decided that this Utah team deserves to have a chance to attack the entire regular season healthy and as is to see how far they can go. They earned that by fighting to be in the playoffs when they had every excuse to give up. This team is still a really young team and with their star, Donovan Mitchell, only 22 as well, the Utah Jazz are poised for a lot of internal development and upward mobility. There are only a few playoff teams that can raise their ceiling of wins solely by internal development of youngsters: Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and the Utah Jazz.
Dennis Lindsey seems to reading the free agency market wisely and banking on that internal development of his rising playoff roster and not blowing their cap space like a child with a $20 in an arcade.