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Once Again, The Utah Jazz Are In The Middle Of the Lockout Talks - The Downbeat - #606

   It seems like these things come in threes.  After spending Monday and Tuesday going over some of the financials of the Jazz, Brian Windhorst of ESPN wrote about how a letter from small market owners in 2006 may have been the seed that became the current lockout.  One of the signatures on the letter was Larry H. Miller in addition to "Paul Allen of Portland, Herb Simon on Indiana, Bob Johnson of Charlotte, George Shinn of New Orleans, Michael Heisley of Memphis, Glen Taylor of Minnesota, and Herb Kohl of Milwaukee."  Part of the letter to commissioner Stern read,

We are asking you to embrace this issue because the hard truth is that our current economic system works only for larger-market teams and a few teams that have extraordinary success on the court and for the latter group of teams, only when they experience extraordinary success. The rest of us are looking at significant and unacceptable annual financial losses.

This letter came shortly after the current CBA was signed in 2005 in which the players were given 57% of the BRI (basketball related income).  This letter doesn't seem to be addressing the BRI split so much as it is the competitive balance in the league.  The Jazz were one of the small market teams that would have fallen under the "experiencing extraordinary success."  They had that success because they had two HOF players that they drafted and were able to build a team around them.

At the time this letter was written, the Jazz had come off a successful season of reaching .500 after winning just 26 games the prior year.  That year though saw them come close to paying the luxury tax with the deals of Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, and Andrei Kirilenko increasing and a first-round draft pick salary in Deron Williams.  The team's salary that year was $61,158,598 with the luxury tax being $61.7 million.  The team would go to the Western Conference Finals the following year and contend after that.

Larry Miller was adamant about not going over the luxury tax.  However, when he turned things over to Greg Miller, that changed almost immediately.  Miller stated that the team "would be willing to go into the luxury tax realm to preserve and protect the team, and put the most competitive team we can on the floor." Part of that was matching the offer sheet for C.J. Miles that he had received from Oklahoma City in 2008.  That's a move that Larry Miller stated that he probably wouldn't have done.  They didn't go over the luxury tax until the 2010 season and then again in 2011.  Greg Miller has stated that they don't intend to pay the luxury tax indefinitely.  However, in today's NBA, it's apparent that you have to spend in order to compete.  Even for teams like Oklahoma City that are contenders while remaining under the cap, the piper will come for them as well.

Up until they were luxury tax payers, the Jazz were profitable as a business according to the numbers from Forbes.   The Jazz enjoyed quite a bit of profitability from 2003-2005 when they started to rebuild after Stockton and Malone.  Their profitability dipped though when contract expenses rose.  Yet with luxury tax payouts from being under the cap, they remained in the black.

I don't know what LHM's stance would be today.  He has stated, as well as the current ownership group, that the Jazz are a community and state icon and they want to keep the Jazz here.  Of course a large part of keeping them here is to keep the team stable, not necessarily profitable, but the team can't be a huge drain on the rest of the LHM group. 

I believe where the Jazz stand today is that they want to have the same competitive advantage as every other team.  There are certain things like climate, big city life, and other geographic advantages that Salt Lake can't compete with, but financially they should be able to have the same chance as everyone else. 

Also from Howard Beck this morning, the Jazz are still among that group,

Most of these teams are losing a lot of money and see little chance of overtaking the league's most powerful clubs, even if they spend more on players. This group includes the Blazers, the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies, the Jazz, the Nuggets, the Pacers and the Rockets.

When the owners finally come together, we may get a deal.

   Speaking of which, Alan Hahn of Newsday reported last night that the players and owners will be meeting again today after the last blow-up.    I've been following every reporters' tweets religiously, hoping for somethinggood to come out of these talks.  The good news is that they're talking again.  The bad news is that I'm still not holding out hope that anything gets done today.

Also of note is that Stern hasn't officially cancelled more regular season games.  Take that for what it's worth because Howard Beck of the NY Time writes that it doesn't matter,

Whenever the lockout is resolved, the N.B.A. will build a new schedule from scratch, using all arena dates that are still reserved, according to people who are aware of the league's plans. N.B.A. officials declined to discuss the issue Tuesday.

Thus, the decision to formally announce cancellations is an academic exercise, and perhaps a bit of political theater. The announcements are a warning shot to the league's 430-plus players, a reminder that they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

They're going to have to re-write the schedule if/when play resumes.  So those games we talk about losing may not be lost.  If they don't squeeze in the 82 games, then a compressed schedule like the one made in 1999 will be created.  They likely have 2-3 potential schedules created depending on what happens with negotiations.

  Finally, Jerry Sloan will be given his rightful place alongside Calbert Cheaney.  The University of Evansville will open an exhibit honoring its former stars as well as a section to remember the plane crash that claimed the lives of the men's basketball team.

The corridor will feature All-American and All-State basketball players who played at Roberts along with photos, images and video of some of the greatest sports moments at Roberts. Reproductions of lockers for UE star basketball players Jerry Sloan, Larry Hume and Calbert Cheaney and late UE Men's Basketball Coach Arad McCutchan will be permanent parts of the exhibit.

Here's a picture of the locker room recreations featuring a sweet Aces jersey on Sloan.

  Good twitterview with one-time Jazz man Othyus Jeffers.  You can't help but root for this guy.

  Wednesday open poll...  Anyone dressing up for Halloween with a Jazz/NBA-related costume?