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The Utah Jazz Aren't Going Anywhere - The Downbeat - #624

   Just a phenomenal story by Jody Genessy on the finances of the Utah Jazz and whether they could possibly be sold if there aren't changes made to the system. As I saw snippets this morning and started to come up with potential talking points, I read the entire article and found that Genessy had covered everything.

The first thing that came to my mind though was the letter last week that was sent by ten small-market teams that expressed their disapproval for the last offer that included the 50/50 split of the BRI.  It's notable that the Jazz were not on that list when I though they would have been?  Does that mean that they would be fine with the current deal as is?  My guess is that this is where the line between a hawk and a dove becomes blurry. 
As stated in Genessy's article, the Jazz need a different system not only to remain competitive, but also so that they wouldn't have to potentially sell the team.  As a hawk, they would make a hard push for the deal they wanted and wouldn't mind losing a season to get it.  The doves on the other hand would settle for a few minor changes and would prefer to play the season.
Not having the Millers' signatures on that letter doesn't mean necessarily that they aren't hawks.  I believe though that they can live with the most recent split on BRI and system changes.  The Jazz are perhaps more linked to the rest of the Millers' other businesses more than any other NBA team in their respective market.  Everyone here knows that the Millers own the Megaplex theaters, Fanzz, the Motorpark, and many other businesses.  A lost season would damage the team and could have a negative impact on their other businesses as well.  So while they may prefer a bigger split of the BRI, a hard cap, and other owner-friendly changes, I believe they can live with what's being presented now.  They would prefer at this point to have a season rather than push more and lose the year.

That's also the biggest reason why I don't believe the Jazz would be sold soon.  While money will rule in the end, if the current changes are implemented, it appears that they would be sufficient for the Millers to retain ownership of the team.  If the Millers were to sell, there could be a huge backlash from the community and fans.  To eliminate that, they would certainly have to a clause that would prevent the new owners from moving the team.  I don't think most fans would care about who owned the team so long as it would be kept in Utah.

There's one other reason why  I don't believe that the Millers would sell the team.  The Jazz are so intricately woven into the marketing aspect of all of the LHM Group of businesses that removing them would be detrimental to their brand as a whole.  They cross-promote everything everywhere.  While they could still maintain that relationship with new Jazz owners, they have exclusive control over the biggest marketing tool in the Utah market.  Think of the hit that KFAN, KJZZ, Megaplex theaters, and dealerships would take if they didn't have the power of an NBA franchise behind them.  Life and business would go on and those relationships could continue, but not in the autocratic way that it does now.

It's also worth noting that the biggest expense for the team, players' salaries, will now be taking a dip for the upcoming season.  They will be over the salary cap but will not be luxury tax payers for the first time in two seasons.  Under the assumption of a full season, the payroll next season would have only been about $60 million, down from the $75 million from last season.  In the 2013 season, the team's payroll will be between $50 and $55 million.  So not only will they have a lesser payroll, they will become luxury tax recipients instead of luxury tax payers.  Not only will they be saving $15 million in salary, they won't have to pay the $5 million in tax and would receive roughly $4 million in payouts.  That's a $24 million turnaround.  With a better BRI split and better system, the Jazz should be in good shape going forward.

It's also worth noting that while players' salaries were at an all-time high for the Jazz, Forbes reported that revenue was also at an all-time high as well.  The operating income for the Jazz was at its highest the past decade was in the 2003-05 seasons when salary was at its lowest.  This was before the AK contract and deals for Memo and Boozer kicked in.  The Jazz should return to that over the next few seasons as the team gets younger and cheaper.

  A Greek sports media site is reporting that Enes Kanter is close on a deal with Olympiakos.  This is the same team that had offered him a two-year deal a couple of years ago.

Thanks to @bilibaz and @CKeceli for the info.

  You see, he's not a machine!  In all seriousness, let's hope AK recovers fully from this nasty fall.  EOB reported that he was concussed on the play.

(h/t to Chris Foote and Kurt Adison)

  Ken Berger of CBS Sports has been optimistic throughout this whole lockout.  So he's not about to let some little thing like the union's disclaimer of interest get him down,

Two people who have been briefed on the league's strategy told the NBA is holding out hope a settlement can be reached in time for the season to begin no later than Christmas. One of those people said the process already is under way through what he described as "back-channeling," although sources from both sides professed no knowledge of such conversations.

A third person said that based on how vendor contracts and other financial arrangements were put in place, starting the season by Christmas would be optimal as far as preserving those relationships, and of course, revenues. Multiple people who have spoken with top NBA officials about the matter said it is understood that starting the season after Christmas is not viewed as a viable option.

There is still time of course but time has this funny thing of not stopping for anyone nor anything.  It will pass with or without a deal.

  There have been a couple of pro-owner pieces on the DesNews this past week including one yesterday where Derek Fisher resumes his spot as the official lightning rod of Utah and one aimed at players in general.

I'm perplexed at the reason why Utah and its residents are so pro-owner in all of this.  They've painted the players as greedy and selfish yet place no blame on the owners nor point out the Escalades, large homes, and other lavish lifestyles that the rich owners have as well.

You know my stance on this.  I favor the players after they've given up a huge chunk of BRI and have given back on system issues.  I also think they've bungled negotiations and will deserve whatever they end up settling for.

However, these pieces aren't supposed to be subjective.  That's fine.  That's what they're written for.  But when they mention that the players decertified (not technically correct) or talk about average player salaries being high without mentioning that this is because NBA teams have far fewer players than other professional leagues, then they lose me.  And only the Fisher article lays blame a little on owners at the very end.

What they fail to mention is that players' salaries are directly tied to the success of the league.  If income increases, so do player salaries.  That's where the BRI comes into play.  If income decreases, then the players have to pay that back to the owners.  These articles make it sound like the players are striking because they're crying about not getting paid enough when it was in fact the owners that locked them out.

Perhaps this is why every poll that is taken in regards to favoring players and owners that Utah is consistently pro-owner.  There are other factors I'm sure but I don't think Utah is getting both sides of the story.

So when the owners set artificial starting points -- remember 45% BRI and a hard cap? -- and then claimed to have conceded, it's a joke.  The only true concessions have come from the players who have given up at least 7% of the BRI ($300 million roughly) and numerous system issues.  While the owners have a legitimate need to change things from the old CBA, one they came up with and said was needed to survive, this has been a truly one-sided affair in terms of concessions.

When Derek Fisher gets lit up for wearing a $3000 suit and $500 tie, why is the wardrobe of David Stern, Dan Gilbert, and Paul Allen never brought up?  Why are their millions and billions never mentioned or looked down upon as being greedy people?

The share of the money is what is being discussed here.  This can't be compared to a normal owner/employee business because the employees are also the product.  Most of us work for companies and we're paid for the work that we do.  Rarely are we the product being sold.  The players put in the work as well.  However, for their unique skill set, they need the league and its owners.

If you don't like what you're getting paid, you're free to find another job.  However, if your skill set is professional basketball, then things drop off after the NBA.  That's a favorite thing to say to players, "If you don't like it, find a real job and see how you like it."  What if you were told that by your employer?  "You like getting paid $75,000 a year?  Well, go find somewhere else that pays you $30,000." 

If your boss comes to you under that pay scenario and asks you to make changes for the good of the business, would giving up $5,250 a year suffice?  What if the owner wanted to make it so that you could only get a 2% raise of the next five years.  Would you be greedy for saying no?

The economy is cited as well for the greed.  It's as if the NBA hasn't remained relatively immune to the economic climate.  In fact, they still have growth in revenues every year.

So why is it in Utah that it's only the players are to blame?