LAS VEGAS — Details of the Utah Jazz’s trade for Mike Conley Jr. were officially announced on Saturday, July 6.
With the veteran floor general joining the squad in Salt Lake City, starting next season, many fans wondered if he would keep No. 11 — like he did for a dozen years in Memphis — until he decided to switch to No. 10.
As Utah’s No. 11, Dante Exum continues to recover from his season-ending surgery on March 28 to repair a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee, and he says that was never an issue.
“Naw, he said ‘you can keep 11,’ and he was cool about it,” Exum told the Deseret News, smiling. “I’m just glad we’re teammates.”
The Jazz sent Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder and two future first-round draft picks to Memphis in the trade, then agreed to a one-year deal with former New York Knicks guard Emmanuel Mudiay via free agency.
Even with Ricky Rubio signing with Phoenix and Raul Neto headed to Philadelphia, Exum sees this season as a big one because of the additions.
Exum, 23, has spent time rehabbing in Los Angeles. He also showed up to Cox Pavilion on Saturday to watch closely from a courtside seat, next to teammate Rudy Gobert, as the Jazz defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 78-66, in their Las Vegas Summer League opener.
“Obviously, just rehabbing and doing everything I can to make sure I’m ready for the season,” Exum described his offseason. “It’s great. We’re going to have a great team and it’s just going to push everyone to get better.
“Our roster is going to be really cool so I’m happy to be a part of it,” he continued.
Exum says his offseason has consisted of rehabbing and conditioning with no major changes from his previous routine. The Australian guard’s career has been marred by injuries throughout the years, but his teammates and the Jazz organization have kept faith in him. He averaged 6.9 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 rebounds in the 42 games he did appear in last season, while being limited with the knee injury and a severe left ankle sprain.
During the 2017-18 season, he also missed all but 39 games with a separated shoulder, plus his entire sophomore campaign in 2015-16 after tearing his ACL while playing for the Australian national team.
This time around, Exum says he’s committed to staying healthy to show what he can do on a roster that many expect to compete for an NBA title with all the offseason acquisitions.
“I just want to show what I can do for the team and I think if I just stay on the court, that’s going to be my main goal, I can help the team win,” Exum said. “I believe that.”