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What history tells us about NBA ownership changes

Could additional changes be on the horizon?

I’m still in shock at the news of Gail Miller selling the Utah Jazz to local Ryan Smith. It’s something I thought could happen at some point, but I didn’t think it actually would. Certainly not this offseason! There were no rumblings of this news whatsoever until Twitter suddenly exploded with the Woj/Shams bomb.

Now that we’ve had some time to take in this news, I couldn’t help but wonder how this change might change the short term and long term future of the Jazz. Surprisingly, there are quite a few recent examples of NBA teams that have sold. A lot more than I would have guessed since just 2010.

Here is the list of those teams:

Ok first off, the owners that bought their respective teams in the early 2010’s made a ridiculously good investment based on the recent sales. But that’s beside the point. I decided to take a look at Basketball-Reference’s roster continuity data as well as just overall team records 3 years before and 3 years following the sell of the team. I was curious if we might expect a new owner to come in and put their footprint on their team right away.

The results were honestly less interesting than I expected, but they still tell a story.

Here’s what I found:

(Shoutout to Amar - it had been far too long since a color coded table had found its way into an article here on the Dunk)

For the most part, teams tended to stay in the same ballpark both in terms of roster construction and overall record. Eight organizations had more roster turnover than the previous 3 years, while six had less roster turnover. Eight teams had a worse record for the following 3 years, while six improved their record.

One thing I did notice is that teams tend to sell during a low period vs a high period. That makes pretty clear sense as an owner is likely to turn a higher profit during playoff seasons than not. That being said, there were still a good number of teams that were sold despite very recent success. Sometimes this was due to an owner aging (Grizzlies, Jazz?), sometimes an owner just being sick of the grind (Rockets, Nets) and then there’s obviously the Clippers.

So what does this all mean for the Jazz? Honestly, I have no idea. But Ryan Smith is buying this team at an interesting time. They have 2 All Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Unfortunately, these two reportedly don’t get along well. Both are due extensions very soon and difficult decisions must be made.

Do you keep this core together and see how far they take you next season? After all, they took the Nuggets to game 7 despite being down a 20 point scorer in Bojan Bogdanovic. If Bubble Mike is now the real Mike Conley then that’s a completely rational decision.

Or do you start building this roster with a long term outlook around Donovan Mitchell in mind (at POINT GUARD PLEASE)? That might mean moving the Defensive Player of the Year and potentially fan-favorite Joe Ingles as well.

Either way, it is an exciting time to be a Jazz fan. Whatever is in store during this historically weird offseason is sure to be intriguing. Just how involved will the new owner get in that process?