It’s been a very good week for the Utah Jazz in preseason. Everything is rolling and the season is right around the corner. Here’s a few news and notes you might have missed the last week.
The NBA Board of Governors approved Ryan Smith’s purchase of the Utah Jazz
This was more of a formality but it was nice to see this finalized.
Sources: Among items NBA Board of Governors are expected to approve in meeting this afternoon: Ryan Smith’s purchase of Utah Jazz, expanding active rosters to 15 on game nights, permanently adopting coaching challenge and amending several trade rules.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 17, 2020
Probably the biggest surprise this offeason was the sale of the Utah jazz to Ryan Smith. But so far it seems like smooth sailing as the Jazz have continued their trajectory from last season.
It apparently almost didn’t happen because Smith was closing to buying the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ryan Smith was "really close" to bidding on Timberwolves before his wife put her foot down. "You know we're Jazz fans, right?" she told him. Now, the lifelong Utah resident if officially the Jazz's owner. Smith: "We want to win and do good here in Utah." https://t.co/USdsHTtSWR— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 18, 2020
Because we now know the Jazz were struggling enough to be willing to sell the team we should all think about sending Ashley Smith a christmas card.
How nice is it knowing that the Jazz owner is as much of a fan of the team as we all are!?
Ryan Smith wasn’t the only one buying an ownership stake in the Jazz
Along with Ryan Smith, Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian is also buying a stake making him the first Austrailian co-owner of the team. Also buying stake is Ryan Sweeney an Accel investor.
Qualtrics billionaire Ryan Smith's purchase of the Utah Jazz is official, and he's bringing along a couple tech friends as co-owners: Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes and Accel partner Ryan Sweeney.— Alex Konrad (@alexrkonrad) December 18, 2020
I spoke to the three about their plans for Utah.https://t.co/iv780bOr5k
Ryan Smith is the majority owner of the Jazz but Cannon-Brookes and Sweeney appear to be an important part of the ownership group.
From Konrad’s article:
In separate exclusive interviews with Forbes, Smith, Sweeney and Cannon-Brookes detailed how the group came together: a decade of a friendship anchored around a belief in tech entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley and a shared love of basketball.
“I said, hey, if this was a tech company, how would I do this? And with the history I’ve had, you surround yourself with the best, people who are additive, but not too many,” Smith says. “There are no extra points for going it alone.”
It’s fun to have owners that love basketball, are competitive, and are invested in Utah long-term. It’s the perfect type of ownership Jazz fans could hope for.
Ryan Smith also recently spoke to media about the Jazz and his vision for the team.
On if he’ll be a meddling owner:
Ryan Smith, on if he'll meddle with bball ops: "I'm not going to go in and chime in to what the basketball side of the house is really doing. I'm just here to help. I truly believe that we hire the best and we let them roll, then augment them with anything they need help with."— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) December 18, 2020
His views on racial justice:
Ryan Smith, on racial justice protests: "There is nothing that’s as bad of an experience as systemic racism … We’re going to be actively ani-racist as an organization. We’re going to work to make our community more equitable. It should have been done a hell of a long time ago."— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 18, 2020
On the Jazz TV deal:
Ryan Smith on the Jazz TV deal expiring: "We have younger fans, or digital first fans, or fans who just want to sit in their lazy boy and watch. And you know what? All of those are perfect. We want all the fans. I do believe that we can do better, not just one size fits all."— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) December 18, 2020
These quotes are music to my ears. An owner who is this engaged with doing right by the players, and the fans, is perfect. Utah has already been doing a lot with racial justice and it’s nice to see Smith is ready to carry that torch moving forward.
Hopefully Smith can figure something out for Jazz fans in terms of a streaming option, as well as finding a way to improve the TV product. We’ve had multiple seasons with ATT Sports Net and they haven’t always been good. They’ve chosen to literally not show certain preseason games for multiple years and have had issues with their broadcast multiple times. It can be better. Maybe that will mean a different TV deal when the contract is up, or finding a new partner. We shall see.
I like that Smith is willing to let the Jazz front office do its job. Regardless of this quote from Smith about letting people do their jobs, trades have to be approved by owners. So there will be things that come across his desk he has to sign off on. Will he allow the Jazz to make a big trade if they have to? Probably, but it’s got to be hard going from fan to big time decision maker.
Speaking of difficult situations and possible big trades...
Rudy Gobert and the Jazz still haven’t come to agreement on a deal
Should I just copy and past the article from last time here?
The important thing to remember with this is that the deadline for a supermax deal is this Monday the 21st.
Perhaps this Monday we will have a deal. It’s just not clear why that hasn’t happened up until now. Unless Gobert, or Utah, has some sort of change of heart on Monday we likely don’t see a deal done.
There’s not a lot else to say on this topic other than it’s clear that there is, at least up until the time I’m writing this, a divide between what the Jazz are offering and what Gobert wants.
Gobert did speak about the supermax extension today with media.
With the supermax extension deadline Monday, Rudy Gobert said he doesn't view it as a distraction — his sole focus remains on improving and the team winning, and the contract will take care of itself.— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 19, 2020
It’s good that this isn’t a distraction but it doesn’t make me think they’re any closer to any sort of deal. My big question is, behind closed doors, if the Jazz don’t have a deal done on the 21st, how does Gobert take that? Do they continue talks on a contract or do both sides look to the future?
Because of the signing of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gobert becomes one of the top, if not the top, free agent next offseason and will likely garner serious interest from multiple teams.
Are the Jazz willing to risk losing Gobert for nothing? It puts leverage on the table for Gobert for some sort of supermax. If the Jazz are still unwilling to pay that kind of money, it’s hard not to speculate trade talks don’t start happening next week, if they haven’t started already.