As the prima sets connected what was a historical Olympic run for the Boomers successful Tokyo, 1 question remained connected the minds of astir fans watching the squad triumph a bronze medal: "Why is Dante Exum inactive without an NBA contract?"
After playing each 82 games arsenic a rookie for the Utah Jazz successful the 2014-15 season, Exum was cruelly denied an Olympic debut successful Rio 5 years agone erstwhile helium tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) successful his near genu portion playing for the Boomers successful Slovenia aft his debut season.
Following that genu injury, Exum has ne'er gotten adjacent to playing a afloat play of hoops successful the six years since, held to a career-low six games successful the 2020-21 play aft he was struck down with a superior calf tear that threatened different Olympic campaign.
However, helium would not beryllium denied this time, and coincidentally, it was against Slovenia successful the bronze medal lucifer wherever Exum would prevention his champion for erstwhile it mattered most.
The 26-year-old played 20 minutes, scoring 12 points connected 4-of-5 shooting, including 5 captious points down the agelong successful the 4th fourth arsenic the Boomers held disconnected a Slovenian comeback, portion besides playing pugnacious defence connected Luka Doncic whenever superior stopper Matisse Thybulle sat.
Standing astatine 6'5", Exum is simply a rugged defender who is versatile and diversion capable to defender positions 1 done three, precisely the benignant of subordinate astir NBA Playoff teams look for.
After the expiry of his three-year, $US33 cardinal deal, Exum is an unrestricted escaped cause this summertime who is escaped to motion with immoderate squad helium wishes.
Exum finished the Olympics having changeable 47 per cent from the tract portion besides hitting fractional of his three-point attempts, including 2 monolithic triples against Slovenia.
As the versatile defender enactment successful displacement aft displacement for Brian Goorjian's broadside successful Tokyo, fans wondered wherefore helium hadn't been picked up yet, peculiarly with teams forking retired millions upon millions connected contracts successful the archetypal fewer days of the NBA's escaped bureau period.
There is small uncertainty implicit whether Exum volition get different NBA deal, players of his skillset and property are ever successful request crossed the league.
While it was an incredibly tiny illustration size and came from the shorter planetary three-point line, Exum's brace of triples against Slovenia provided a tantilising glimpse into the subordinate helium inactive could become, if his assemblage allows it.
He is ne'er going to beryllium a high-volume three-point shooter, but it's worthy noting that Exum finished beardown from heavy successful his archetypal play with the Cavs successful 2019-20, hitting 35 per cent of his triples successful 24 games.
If helium tin support that benignant of respectable clip, it should unfastened up the remainder of his crippled successful a large way.
Exum's affirmative decorativeness to the 19-20 play made it look similar helium had recovered the cleanable hoops location successful Cleveland, arsenic helium played the back-up relation to the Cavs' promising young defender tandem of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.
However, arsenic has been the lawsuit passim his career, injuries robbed him erstwhile again, arsenic a calf teardrop meant his Cavs vocation would extremity aft conscionable 30 games earlier helium was dealt to Houston successful the three-team woody that sent James Harden to Brooklyn.
Ironically, it is simply a squad similar the Nets that could usage a antiaircraft specalist similar Exum, fixed they person the violative broadside of the shot good and genuinely covered.
While injuries person deprived Exum of the accidental to showcase the endowment which saw the Jazz prime him 5th wide successful the 2014 NBA Draft, his show successful Tokyo showed that the champion is inactive up for the talented Aussie.
Teams who are wondering whether to instrumentality a flyer connected Exum already person a blueprint: three-time NBA champion and erstwhile Golden State Warrior, Shaun Livingston.
Like Exum, Livingston's vocation was derailed by injuries, with a gruesome genu wounded adjacent putting him astatine hazard of amputation astatine 1 stage.
After bouncing astir the league connected 8 antithetic teams, Livingston yet recovered a imperishable location successful Oakland, and was a captious contributor to the Warriors' rubric teams arsenic a dependable back-up constituent defender who was susceptible of defending astatine a precocious level.
Whichever squad decides to instrumentality a punt connected Exum, peculiarly if it is simply a rubric contender, could find themselves walking into Livingston 2.0.