Will The Jazz Return To Profitability Next Season? - The Downbeat - #604

   Great article by Brian T. Smith and Mike Gorrell of the Tribune on the financial affairs of the LHM group.  While the entire thing is a good read, there are a couple of points on the Jazz,

The Jazz? No. 7, with 19,511 fans per home game. Utah also posted the league's No. 2 local television rating by earning a 5.6-percent market share, according to the Sports Business Journal. Rigby said the organization ranked No. 3 in the NBA in sponsorship revenue, setting an all-time franchise high.

Despite the big numbers, Miller told The Tribune earlier this year that the public face of LHM still lost money. The Jazz were weighed down by a $75 million roster, which paid out an average of $5.8 million per player, making Utah the No. 11 highest-paying professional sports team in the world, according to sportingintelligence.com. In addition, rising expenses that the NBA says contributed to 22 teams losing a combined $450 million last season helped sink the Jazz into the red.

That of course is because the team was a luxury-tax payer for the first time ever starting with the 2010 season.  They committed to that once Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Mehmet Okur all picked up their player options in a down off-season.  They also had Andrei Kirilenko's contract still on the books.  In addition, Deron Williams' max contract extension kicked in.  So while they may not have been planning on going into the luxury tax that season, they knew it was a possibility.  As a result, the team lost their first-round pick in Eric Maynor as he was traded to Oklahoma City in order for the Thunder to take Matt Harpring's contract.  That move saved them $12 million ($6 million for Hapring plus matching tax).

Last season also saw the Jazz go into luxury tax territory as they used a traded player exception received from Carlos Boozer going to Chicago in order to sign Al Jefferson.  Again, AK's deal was still on the books, Okur had a $10 million deal, and Williams was making the max.  After a promising start to the season, the Jazz faltered and never materialized into a contender.  The choice to go into the luxury tax last season was a little more of a conscious decision in an effort to remain a contender and to help appease Williams.

The Jazz not only had to pay the luxury tax, they also missed out on the luxury tax payments that the teams under the cap split up.  That is why they lost money the past two seasons.

I also hate when the average salary statement is used when it doesn't come with an explanation of NBA teams only having 13-15 players on their roster as compared to those in the NFL and MLB.   We've gone over this before, but the Jazz will be close to the luxury tax again this year.  Their current payroll is $57 million but still need to sign their two first-round picks plus a couple of free-agents. Assuming roughly $7 million for the rookies, that would leave them about $5-6 million without going over the cap again.  If they're able trade a player or get some relief under the amnesty clause that many are suggesting, then they would likely return to profitability assuming attendance remains high.  Other provisions that come in the next CBA could aid that as well.

  Raja Bell went on the radio with 790 The Ticket in Miami to discuss the lockout.  Bell gives great interviews and this one is no exception.  He speaks plainly about Stern, where the players are coming from, and the fans.  More excerpts from Sports Radio Interviews,

What is the most contentious moment that you have felt or seen during these negotiations?

"I think when the commissioner came on TV and basically threatened to cancel games on us if we didn't get our stuff together as a union and agree to one of these deals. I feel like that was the low point for our league as far as the negotiations went this time around."

  John Hollinger today on how Paul Millsap should be played:

John Hollinger:
I think they're going to have to look hard at trading him or Jefferson. Sure seems to me Kanter-Favors is the frontcourt of the future, which means either Al or Millsap has to go. Of the two I'd prefer to trade Al (gets more back, both Kanter and Favors can play 5), but I can see arguments for Millsap.

I know we've discussed Jefferson/Millsap ad nauseam, but he makes a new point I believe in that the Jazz could get more for Jefferson than for Millsap.   There might be more of a market for Millsap given his current contract but would Jefferson bring back more in return?

  Enes Kanter will play tonight in an exhibition game for Kentucky's Big Blue All-stars.  He'll be playing with John Wall, Rajon Rondo, and DeMarcus Cousins against the likes of Tyler Hanbrough, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, and Zach Randolph.

The only way to see it online though is if you pay $10 for PPV.  I'm not sure if you're that interested in seeing Kanter play in an exhibition game.  YouTube highlights may suffice.  The game starts at 5:30 p.m. MDT.

   A rumor popped up over the weekend from Marc Stein about Portland attempting to land Kevin O'Connor as their GM.  Slowly but surely Portland will take everything, right?  John Hollinger weighs in on this as well from this morning's chat,

Comment From JosephHorner
I worry about my Jazz, they should really Amnesty Raja Bell but will likely start him instead :/ Think all this O'Conner to the Blazers talk is real?

John Hollinger:
I have trouble seeing O'Conner leaving a steady job where he has cart blanche to work for a team that churns through GMs and has a shadow government in Seattle.

 

It would have to be an unbelievable offer from the Blazers for O'Connor to consider taking the position.  If you consider what Portland has done to GMs over the past several seasons and with billionaire owner Paul Allen possibly selling the team in the near future, O'Connor would be going into a tenuous situation.  Not only would he have to be paid a lot more he would probably have to receive a new title and basically be given the keys to run the team as he sees fit.  He almost has that here in Utah.

Stein later tweeted and stated that the Jazz have not been contacted about O'Connor per BTS.

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