CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers traded Jordan Clarkson before he could walk away.
Cleveland dealt the veteran backup guard to the Utah Jazz for guard Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks on Tuesday. The teams agreed to terms of the deal shortly before their games in Cleveland and Miami tipped off on Monday, and the NBA approved it Tuesday.
Clarkson was in the final year of his contract and was unlikely to re-sign with the Cavaliers as a free agent, so the club made a move to add a young player and future assets to help Cleveland rebuild.
The Cavaliers will get San Antonio’s second-round pick in 2022 and Golden State’s in 2023. The Jazz acquired those selections in other trades.
Clarkson could be the first of several veterans moved by the Cavs, who have reportedly been open to receiving offers for star forward Kevin Love. Following Monday’s 121-118 victory over Atlanta, Love posted a message on Instagram, saying he would miss Clarkson.
“This one hurt!!!” Love wrote. “JC really became a close friend of mine the minute he got to Cleveland — the brotherhood is so much bigger than this game we play. Wish we could have shared the court for longer but I know you’ll put in work in this next chapter.”
Clarkson was acquired by Cleveland in a 2018 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers that also landed the Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr.
Clarkson’s departure clears the way for young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland to get more playing time; the Cavaliers see them as the foundation of their future. Sexton scored 25 points, Garland added 21 and both played well down the stretch to hold off the Hawks as the Cavs got their third win in a row under first-year coach John Beilein.
Sexton and Garland scored Cleveland’s first 17 points of the fourth quarter.
“The young guys right now, we’ve got to play through their mistakes because those are happening out there, too,” Beilein said. “But the two of them really see each other, they play well together, everybody should be really excited about the future with those two on the floor.”
The 27-year-old Clarkson is averaging 14.6 points per game this season and is expected to give a lift to Utah’s second unit. In his final game for Cleveland, Clarkson scored a season-high 33 points in a victory over Memphis.
Exum had fallen out of Utah’s rotation, and the Cavaliers are hoping a change of scenery could spark the talented 24-year-old, who has been slowed by injuries. The No. 5 overall pick in 2014 has two years and $19.2 million left on his contract.
In making the move, the Cavaliers created a $3.8 million trade exception, which they have one year to use, according to ESPN.
Exum appeared in 11 games for Utah this season. Over the past five seasons, he averaged 5.7 points and 2.2 assists in 18.7 minutes.