We weren’t exactly sure what would happen with Dante Exum and the Utah Jazz this offseason. There was reason to believe that both parties wanted to reach an agreement to keep Exum in Utah, but you can never be sure in NBA free agency. News broke on Tuesday afternoon that a deal had been agreed upon, and Dante Exum got paid. The Jazz and Exum agreed to a 3-year, $33 Million deal, which will keep the explosive Aussie guard around for the next several years.
It was made very clear through this deal that the Jazz are all in an Dante Exum. Some consider this an overpay, but the Jazz do not. They believe Exum has potential that he has not yet tapped into after years of constant injury in such a young career. Exum has shown flashes of brillance. At his ceiling, he is surely worth a $11 Million/year. His burst and speed allow him to get to the rim with ease. His defensive ability and length have helped him lock down some of the best scorers in the NBA. If Exum can keep trending up, this deal is awesome.
But it doesn’t always work out like that. Injuries could continue to haunt him and keep him from being the player that the Jazz want him to be. He could hit a wall in his development and plateau as an NBA player. If either of those things happen, this will obviously not be a great deal for the Jazz. But they are confident in Dante Exum, and believe he can be much better than he is.
The other thing that was made clear by this move to keep Exum around is the fact that Dennis Lindsey and the Jazz believe this team with its current players can keep winning. Many thought the Jazz would make some drastic moves this offseason, including an attempt at bringing in another big time scrorer. At the start of free agency, Dennis Lindsey mentioned his top priority was bringing back his three pending free agents in Favors, Exum, and Neto. The Jazz extended all three of them, including picking up the option for Thabo Sefolosha, bringing him back to the squad as well. This team will look nearly identical to last year’s, but hopefully better in the sense that they’ve had another year to mesh together and add player improvement through development. At least right now, the Jazz are keeping this squad together, and we will see how it plays out this season.
Happy Fourth of July to everyone yesterday, hopefully y’all had a great day and enjoyed your Independence Day. Donovan Mitchell was especially enoying himself yesterday, and crashed a few local BBQ’s like he was one of us.
This is my cousin with the Spida in Utah! Donovan Mitchell is true to his word! ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/eqTuPwBwCd— Sam Winder (@samwinderart) July 5, 2018
I keep seeing pics with him and my friends I’m pretty sure he went to 2-3 different places— Connor (@cronair) July 5, 2018
Who does that? Donovan Mitchell, that’s who.
Alright, so you think you have maxed out your love for Ricky Rubio.
Granddaughter Mae with main crush @rickyrubio9 and pal @RaulTogni. Thanks, guys! She’ll be walking on air for days. The strength of our team is the team. #TakeNote #smoldertwins pic.twitter.com/zHSv1VL90t— Don Stirling (@DonStirling801) July 4, 2018
How adorable is this? Who picks up a young fan girl and smiles that big WHILE WEARING A JOHN STOCKTON THROWBACK JERSEY??? This dude Ricky Rubio shows again and again why we need to keep in Utah. On the court, off the court, this guy just fits so well here.
The Jazz have until July 9th to decide whether or not they will guarentee Ekpe Udoh’s contract for the coming season. Udoh said of the situation “you know, we will see what happens”. Udoh was a fun player to have around this season, but his usefullness fluctuated with the availability of Rudy Goberet and the different rotations that Quin Snyder threw together.
“I’ve been here pretty much since the season has been over outside of a couple trips, but I’ve just been getting in good work.”
On the court, Udoh was effective off the bench in 63 games for the Jazz, averaging 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while making three starts. Defensively is where he made his mark, finding ways to be effective in short spurts of 12.9 minutes per game, while thriving in the plus-minus metrics.
As Udoh awaits the Jazz’s decision, he’s proud of the recent front office moves to draft former Duke star Grayson Allen and keep free agents Derrick Favors, Raul Neto and Dante Exum. He’s prepared to return in a Jazz uniform but also understands the business of the league.
“It’s gonna be a fun season,” Udoh said. “The West has gotten better but we’ve gotten better and we’re gonna be the same team next year. Starting last year, you didn’t know what you were going to get with so many new pieces, but now we’ll be ready from the beginning.”
Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News published a great piece on Donovan Mitchell, his eventful summer, and his activity in the community.
Donovan Mitchell restoring culture of Utah Jazz basketball with busy offseason— Deseret News Sports (@desnewssports) July 4, 2018
By @E_Woodyard https://t.co/BA1rXzXS9d pic.twitter.com/lvVPhAygEw
Whether he’s making impromptu appearances at local 3-on-3 tourneys, attending the NBA Finals, NBA Draft, worldwide Adidas trips or strolling the red carpet at the NBA Awards, the 21-year-old continues to win over fans with his infectious personality.
After his record-breaking rookie season, Mitchell has literally been around the game non-stop while shedding any negative perception that a young African-American baller can’t thrive in this Utah market.
“For me, my biggest thing is I don’t look at it like that,” Mitchell told the Deseret News. “I’m just trying to impact kids lives in any way I can and fortunately the year I had, kind of brought a lot of light to that.
“I’m trying to keep it as positive as possible,” he continued. “There are a lot of people who have power to do things and I just want to keep it right and keep it in that frame of mind by going to 3-on-3 tournaments for little kids or whatever it may be. Just trying to make sure kids understand that I’m here, I want to be a part of the community and I love it here and they wear my jersey and I see it so I want to go out there and make sure they know it while finding ways to bring brightness to their day.”
Donovan Mitchell is off to a great start in Utah, and alraedy has fans wrapped around his finger.
The article also discusses Mitchell’s impact on the team, and how he seems to have a lot more experience and taken a larger role than your typical rookie.
“He genuinely wants to help me,” Allen said of Mitchell. “A lot of it was little stuff after plays and after timeouts when I was coming over. He would have one little tip for me. Most of it was on the floater or on a little bounce pass that I could make, some defensive footwork when guys are trying to come off ball screens.”
Jazz two-way player Georges Niang says it’s no front, either. That’s just Donovan being Donovan and guys aren’t surprised by his contagious spirit. It’s rather normal.
“The way he acts, I said this to someone when the season ended, you wouldn’t think he’s a rookie,” Niang said. “When I was with the Jazz, he would set up team dinners, he’s always bringing and pulling guys together and I think that’s just the type of person he is and his mature ways.
“I think he’s mature beyond his years and he genuinely cares about everyone he’s around and I think that’s what makes him so special so when you have all your eggs in line you don’t have to worry about anything else and you can direct people in different directions just because he knows what’s going on.”