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Jazz, Championships, and the Money Needed for the Two to Meet

Jazz, Championships, and the Money Needed for the Two to Meet

So Amar's post about the evasive Game 7 in 1998 got me thinking, "Me, how much were we actually committed financially to winning a championship that year? And while we're at it, me, what about 1997?" So I set out on foot to go ask Greg Miller, but about 100 meters into the trek, I realized that 1) I was already tired and I had over 80 miles to go, 2) I probably wouldn't be allowed to talk to Greg, and 3) even if I were allowed, what could he possibly say? He probably wouldn't even know the answer himself-after all, how do you answer a question like that? "Why as a matter of fact Parelkid, we were extremely committed at the time! Why do you ask?"

So at that point, I turned around and went home. But I didn't give up. I decided to find a measurable answer myself. And then I decided I wanted to know the answer to this question for every year we've been in the league (which turned out to be a much bigger task). So without further Ado (who is Ado anyways? Or is it Abu?)... here are the parameters of my answer-finding:

Parameters

1) Only salary payrolls are taken into account, since any other financial numbers for all those years would be hard to come across, and I wouldn't know what they meant anyways, or even if they pertained to the Jazz or some other organization under the Miller name.

2) Any luxury tax assessed in the league was then also excluded, as I couldn't find any solid numbers for enough years. (ok... I didn't look for any)

3) I could only find payroll numbers for the years shown below (courtesy of Patricia Bender at www.eskimo.com/~pbender/misc/), and I'm not sure how accurate they may be.

4) Financial commitment towards that specific year's Championship Title is measured in two distinct ways using the payroll information:

i) Against the champs - this is based off the idea that if we were to have spent the same amount as the champions, we should have then won the title. The equation is: Financial commitment = (Jazz payroll - league's lowest payroll) / (champ's payroll - league's lowest payroll)

ii) By Rank - this is based off the idea that whoever spends the most wins the title. The equation is: Financial commitment = (number of teams in league - Jazz's payroll rank in league) / (number of teams in league)

5) I then graphed each of these with a linear best-fit curve to see what trends were present, and to see how much we should theoretically spend in the 2014-2015 season to expect a chance at the title.

The Numbers

Year

Champion City

Champion Team

Champ's Payroll Rank

Champ's Payroll (in millions)

Jazz Payroll Rank

Jazz Payroll (in Milions)

Teams in League

League's Smallest Payroll (in millions)

Financial Commitment vs. Champions

Financial Commitment by Rank

2013

Miami

Heat

3

83

12

67

30

53.3

46.13%

60.00%

2012

Miami

Heat

5

76.2

20

59.3

30

44

47.52%

33.33%

2011

Dallas

Mavericks

3

85.8

7

71.7

30

45

65.44%

76.67%

2010

Los Angeles

Lakers

1

91.4

2

84.7

30

56.3

80.91%

93.33%

2009

Los Angeles

Lakers

6

78.9

19

65.6

30

55.1

44.12%

36.67%

2008

Boston

Celtics

6

74.1

18

65

30

52.7

57.48%

40.00%

2007

San Antonio

Spurs

9

65.3

20

61.9

30

41.7

85.59%

33.33%

2006

Miami

Heat

15

60

18

57.4

30

33.5

90.19%

40.00%

2005

San Antonio

Spurs

24

47.1

28

43.2

30

23.4

83.54%

6.67%

2004

Detriot

Pistons

17

53.3

29

34.7

29

34.7

0.00%

0.00%

2003

San Antonio

Spurs

17

52.8

21

49.9

29

42.8

71.00%

27.59%

2002

Los Angeles

Lakers

12

53.5

14

52.6

29

33.8

95.43%

51.72%

2001

Los Angeles

Lakers

6

58.8

10

53.7

29

29.9

82.35%

65.52%

2000

Los Angeles

Lakers

4

54.1

9

49.2

29

22.5

84.49%

68.97%

1999

San Antonio

Spurs

9

40.2

25

31.4

29

29.5

17.76%

13.79%

1998

Chicago

Bulls

1

61.3

15

28.5

29

24.5

10.87%

48.28%

1997

Chicago

Bulls

1

58.3

18

25.3

29

18.6

16.88%

37.93%

1996

Chicago

Bulls

15

23.5

21

22.5

29

18

81.82%

27.59%

1995

Houston

Rockets

24

17.6

20

18.7

27

16.3

184.62%

25.93%

1994

Houston

Rockets

19

16.8

18

17

27

14.3

108.00%

33.33%

1993

Chicago

Bulls

4

18.5

16

14.5

27

11.5

42.86%

40.74%

1992

Chicago

Bulls

3

16.8

14

12.8

27

10.8

33.33%

48.15%

1991

Chicago

Bulls

23

10

19

11.2

27

7.9

157.14%

29.63%

1990

Detriot

Pistons

-----

-----

-----

-----

27

-----

-----

-----

1989

Detriot

Pistons

6

7.5

22

5.5

25

3.4

51.22%

12.00%

1988

Los Angeles

Lakers

2

9.1

13

5.8

23

4.3

31.25%

43.48%

1987

Los Angeles

Lakers

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1986

Boston

Celtics

5

6.6

23

2.9

23

2.9

0.00%

0.00%

1985

Los Angeles

Lakers

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1984

Boston

Celtics

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1983

Philadelphia

76ers

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1982

Los Angeles

Lakers

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1981

Boston

Celtics

-----

-----

-----

-----

23

-----

-----

-----

1980

Los Angeles

Lakers

-----

-----

-----

-----

22

-----

-----

-----

1979

Seattle

Supersonics

-----

-----

-----

-----

22

-----

-----

-----

1978

Washington

Bullets

-----

-----

-----

-----

22

-----

-----

-----

1977

Portland

Trail Blazers

-----

-----

-----

-----

22

-----

-----

-----

1976

Boston

Celtics

-----

-----

-----

-----

18

-----

-----

-----

1975

Golden State

Warriors

-----

-----

-----

-----

18

-----

-----

-----

The Plots

Jazz's Payroll vs. Champ's Payroll

Screenimi_medium

Jazz Payroll vs. Number of Teams in League

Screentzt_medium

Jazz Management's Financial Commitment Toward a Championship

Screenznz_medium

Analysis

So, I really love numbers. Unfortunately, I rarely can actually figure out what they mean. So here's my half-baked attempt at analyzing all of this.

For starters, it's clear that we almost never spend as much as the championship team. Only 3 times of 26 did we spend more than the championship team. All 3 times, the champions were in the lowest third in the league in spending. We were also notably in the bottom third each of those years. So because of the small disparity between what they spent, what we spent, and what the least was that was spent by any franchise that year, the percentage is blown up like crazy.

So when were we most committed financially to a championship? Well, compared to the champs, it was those 3 years I just mentioned.

-By the way, this seems as good a time as any for an aside to point out that 2 of those years were also the 2 years MJ was out of the league after "playing" for a chance in the MLB. While the Rockets won both of those years with a small payroll compared to other teams in the league (kudos to them), there's a good possibility that the Bulls would've been in the finals those 2 seasons, and likely with a bigger payroll than the Rockets. But that would change the whole history of the NBA itself, not to mention the history of the world and any future galactic federations... I'll end there.-

What was I saying? Oh right... So when were we most financially committed to a championship compared to the whole league? Well, for one thing we've never been the highest spender, nor do I ever see us being such. However, in 2009-10 we were pretty darn close. We were the #2 spender that year, beat only by the Lakers who ended up winning it all. So how did that spending status go for us anyways? It was actually a pretty solid year up until the point that we were swept by those same Lakers in the second round of the playoffs.

The year with the second most commitment was the very next year, and we all know what the 2010-11 year left us, or better yet who left us that year. I'll just say it didn't end nearly as well as we would've liked, but we did gain some Favors.

So when were we least financially committed? Well, there were 2 years when we were the lowest spender across the entire league: 1985-86 and 2003-04 seasons. You might notice that the 03-04 season was the season that followed Stockton's and Malone's retirements (LA who?). The front office must have been expecting to do pretty poorly and were hoping to get a solid pick as well as lure in a free agent or two. At least, that's my guess as to why we were spending so little. As it went, we actually ended up with a winning record and 7th seed in the playoffs. We then bailed on the free agent market by re-signing AK to his max deal. Or was that the plan all along?

As for the 85-86 season, this happened to be Malone's rookie season and Stockton's sophomore season. It also ended up being Dantley's last with the Jazz. It would seem like the front office back in the day was foretelling the glory days and was subsequently preparing to create those days. By spending less and trading away a.k.a. letting go of their best player and/or all-star, I'd like to think they were making room for the Dynamic Duo on the payroll.

It seems the front office may have been taking similar approaches in these two seasons. They were cutting back on spending in order to make room for bigger contracts that were on their way. This sounds really familiar, with one really big difference. While this next season seems to be very much like the 2 seasons mentioned, we may not actually end up having the lowest payroll. But only just. Right now there are only 3 teams set to pay out less than us this upcoming season: Bucks, Cavs, and Magic, while the Hawks are set to payout about $70,000 more than us.

The biggest difference between this next season and those 2 seasons: Lindsay's idea to rent out the cap space (I like to give him credit for just about everything good, whether it was his idea or not. For example: ice cream). Now some liked this move, some hated it, and most are indifferent about. But it's clear that the plan is to make room under the cap for our young guys, a move that the front office has proven to do in the past. So to beat out the '86 and '04 seasons, the front office decided they might as well capitalize on the cap space they were saving for the young guns. I'm so EXCITED!!!

Sorry... anyways, back to the analysis. In fact, it's time to look at the years I was meaning to look at all along: the Finals Years! It makes sense to bring it up here because the years of least commitment (based off of the champs of the year) go as follows:

1 & 2 - 1985-86, 2003-04 @ 0% (already discussed)

3 - 1997-98 @ 11%

4 - 1996-97 @ 17%

"Wait what? How can that be?! You're saying we were only 17% and 11% committed to winning a championship the years we WENT TO THE FINALS?!!! Just shut up now!" Now before you go too far, we also need to look at how we were committed these years compared to the rest the league:

1996-97 - 18th highest payroll out of 29

1997-98 - 15th highest payroll out of 29

So, sure we weren't on top of the league in money being dished out, but we certainly weren't scrimping to get by either. I'd say we were pretty much in the middle of the pack. Which begs the question: who was on the top of the league in money being dished out?

Chicago Bulls. Both years.

In fact, by looking at the plot that shows us against the champs, there's a huge spike in years 97 and 98! Not only were they the highest bidder in both years we went up against them for the Title, but they were paying 3 times the amount of Title winners before them (including the previous Bulls teams), and those amounts weren't seen again for a championship team until almost 10 years down the road! I don't want to offend anyone, but if that's not buying a championship, I don't know what is. Yeah yeah yeah, they had a guy named Michael Jordan who was the best all-time and good at pushing off. Whatevs...

It does make you wonder what could've been if we had been a little more willing to spend in those 2 wonderful years...

Moving on (not that I ever really will). How much do we need to spend in the 2014-15 season to win the title? Well, if we base it off the idea that the highest payer wins... then we might as well just give up now, because I simply don't see us ever being the highest bidder. Especially with acts like the one that the Nets' owner is trying to pull this season. So, based off of what championship teams have paid, and extending the linear best-fit plot, we should expect to pay 95 million in salary in 2014-15. Based on our own best-fit curve, we'd likely end up spending 82 million.

While I can see us possibly spending upwards of 80 million, I highly doubt we'd get anywhere close to 90 million.

SO..... Here's to hoping we can pull off what the Rockets and Spurs have pulled off multiple times in history!!!!

(Oh, and in case anyone was worried, I don't actually go by Parelkid in any of my daily conversations. I just figured it'd be confusing to throw in my real name.)

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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