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Back injury keeps Utah's Jordan Clarkson out of NBA 6th Man of the Year race

Alder Almo - Philstar.com
Back injury keeps Utah's Jordan Clarkson out of NBA 6th Man of the Year race
Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz.
Alex Goodlett / Getty Images / AFP

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey – Jordan Clarkson had the third-best odds to win the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year award in January. 

But an ill-timed back injury dropped the Filipino-American guard from contention to win his second 6th Man of the Year plum. 

Clarkson has only played once over the Utah Jazz’s last 10 games due to his back issues. 

In 55 games, including 46 games off the bench, the 31-year-old Clarkson averaged 17.1 points and a career-high 5.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds. He is more productive than current frontrunner Malik Monk of the Sacramento Kings, where former PBA and Gilas star Jimmy Alapag works as an assistant coach. 

The 26-year-old Monk is averaging 15.4 points, 5.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 72 games this season playing exclusively off the bench for the Kings, who will make the postseason for the second straight year. 

Oddsmakers have installed Monk as the overwhelming favorite to win the award Clarkson earned in 2021 despite suffering an MCL injury last week that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks.

The King's guard is a -150 favorite at Bet365, the best for comprehensive betting options according to US Gamblers

Clarkson began his fifth season in Utah as the starting point guard of the Jazz, who aimed at building off their surprising 37-45 record in the first year of their rebuild. 

But the Jazz stumbled with injuries to their key players Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler and Clarkson. 

They are already assured of finishing with a worse record as they have already lost 46 games this season. 

With the Jazz no longer in contention, there is no incentive for them to rush Clarkson back. There are rumblings in Utah that this could be his final season with the team to open up more minutes to their younger players. 

A Clarkson trade in the offseason seems inevitable, Deseret News’ Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd wrote on March 8, a week after Clarkson broke the Jazz’s franchise record for most 30-point games by a bench player. 

“I think it kind of etches my time here in Utah,” Clarkson said. “Sixth Man (of the Year), all those things play a big part in the history, the culture that has been built here. I’m glad to be a part of it and have my name in all those books.”

Clarkson was one of the top trade candidates during the February trade deadline but the Jazz kept a high asking price for the veteran guard. 

The 31-year-old Clarkson is in the first of a three-year extension deal worth $55 million he signed last summer before he played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. 

His new contract was structured in such a way it becomes a valuable trade asset after this season. 

After earning $23.5 million in another lost season for the Jazz, Clarkson is due for a little more than $14 million each in the next two years making him one of the cheapest options for playoff-contending teams looking for instant offense off the bench.  

 

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Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based website Heavy.com.
 

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