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NBA Free Agency 2016: Utah Jazz and the battle against perception

The Introduction to the Utah Jazz free agency situation

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are a small market team (population rank of 25 / 30) located in region that experiences a challenging winter for a significant portion of the NBA Season. In addition to that, the team is generally unpopular outside of their homeland outside of a few random enclaves; and ranked 30th in Facebook likes and 30th in Twitter follows. You'd think that a somewhat historically significant team like the Jazz (tied for 13th most conference titles, tied for 14th most division titles, tied for 14th most Hall of Famers, 17th most All-Stars) with iconic players like Pistol Pete Maravich, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Mark Eaton, and even Andrei Kirilenko would be able to not be encumbered by so much negative association. But that's just not the case. Compounding the "smaller national, global, and online fan base" factor, and the "lack of current stars on the team" factor (and thus, lack of marketing power -- how many Jazz games are on TV every year?) would be an even larger factor: the team hasn't been winning lately.

All of those challenges add up to a team that has to build through the draft (Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Rudy Gobert, Trey Lyles, Alec Burks, and Dante Exum), and trades (Derrick Favors, Raul Neto, Trey Burke, Shelvin Mack, and Tibor Pleiss) -- instead of free agency (Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, Chris Johnson, and Jeff Withey). Clearly one of those groups stands out, and not in a great way.

But we have to talk about NBA Free Agency here, even BEFORE we talk about the draft. (No really, I came to this conclusion over the weekend.) What the team is, what the team needs, and what the team stands to lose . . . and the looming cap . . . means more than figuring out who the Jazz are going to select with the #52 pick this year.

Part 1: Utah Jazz cap situation and future-proofing