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The Utah Jazz Could Be Worth A Billion Dollars -- The Downbeat #1429

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What Steve Ballmer's purchase of the Clippers means for the Jazz. Also: Is Dante Exum progressing? Will the Jazz win more games than last season? Will more of you write FanPosts? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

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Normally, the internal affairs of the Los Angeles Clippers wouldn't have much effect on our Utah Jazz. But the whole NBA has felt the ripple from former owner Donald Sterling's acrimonious ouster. The largest part of the affair was put to rest Tuesday, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer completed the purchase of the Clippers for the staggering sum of two billion dollars.

It's far and away the highest price ever paid for an NBA franchise, and while the Jazz wouldn't go for anywhere near that amount given Utah's smaller market size, Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote Tuesday that the value of the team could soar with this precedent:

A valuation earlier this year by Forbes Magazine estimated the Jazz were worth about $525 million, but in light of recent sales of the Clippers, Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks, some experts believe that number to be much lower than what the Jazz might be worth.

"I could see the Jazz going for somewhere between $650 million and a billion, depending on just how competitive the bidding process was," says Pat Rishe, an economic professor at Webster University and the owner of a sports consulting firm.

Such speculation is probably moot in the case of the Jazz, because the team is family-owned and has such strong community roots. (Greg Miller and every property under the LHM name would get run out of town if he ever sold the team to someone who might move it out of Salt Lake City.)

On top of that, Greg Miller has said, as Larry did before him, that he's willing to operate the Jazz at break-even or less in exchange for the other benefits of ownership. So despite the hefty price tag, I don't think Jazz fans need to lose any sleep over a potential fire sale.

The experts in Falk's article go on to say that the Jazz are probably a stronger brand than other NBA teams of similar market size, given the franchise's legacy of success and consistency. The article also quotes a Forbes valuation that slots the Jazz as the 17th most valuable NBA team. So while the on-court product might not be at that level for a while, it's nice to know that the franchise has plenty of prestige behind it.

Speaking of next season's on-court product: ESPN's NBA writers are working on a suite of Summer Forecast features, and on Tuesday they predicted win-loss records and order of finish for the Western Conference. The Jazz came in at a very strong NOT DEAD LAST, leading only the Love-less Timberwolves. Moreover, ESPN allotted Utah just 26 wins -- only one more than last season.

Prediction_medium

While the prediction process seems prone to the usual national-media biases (looking at you, Lakers), it's hard to say the Jazz will definitely be a better team as far as wins and losses. I know I feel much more optimistic about this upcoming season than I did about the previous year -- so does our own Yucca Man, by the way -- but the roster is still pretty similar and the West is still way too strong.

Next year isn't really about wins, anyway. So prognosticate away, ESPN and other national types. I'll still watch every game.

FanPosts! I almost had to skip this section this week, due to a lack of content. It's a good thing I put off writing this until midnight, I guess, because two of this week's entries popped up while I was procrastinating. HUZZAH.

kbazl gets first billing this week for his "FanPost Downbeat" listing all the new personnel the Jazz have added this offseason:

I wish there was some more info on the interwebs about some of these guys. It seems like all these new additions have been personal picks from both Dennis and Quinn. Both DL and Coach Q strike me as very intelligent men so it is hard for me to think that these new coaches they brought in are idiots. I like to think this is a group of masterminds who all can bring something different to the coaching table. What do you guys know about our new additions to the coaching staff? How does this staff compare to last years staff in terms of number of coaches and number committed to player development? I would love to hear your feedback!

Jordan Cummings takes a stab at predicting the player ratings for the Jazz in the upcoming NBA 2K15 video game:

Fellow gamers, let us all put forth our (wildly optimistic) predictions for Jazz player ratings in this season's NBA 2k game. I'm admittedly biased, but with that said I can't help but feel that Jazz players tend to be insanely underrated. Things like Gordon Hayward 's athleticism and defense, Alec Burks' on-ball defense and layups/dunks, Jeremy Evans' and Enes Kanter 's midrange jumpers, and, even on retro rosters, things like John Stockton's overall rating (something like 87 overall) seem laughably low to me.

Keep tilting at that windmill, Jordan.

Lastly, JuMu examines the likelihood of one or more "alpha dogs" emerging from the current Jazz roster:

Our current rebuilding core appears to have Favors, Hayward, Burks in that order as the most likely to breakout alpha dogs. Kanter or Exum may and should break into that top 3 in years to come, but it is way too early to tell the trajectory of our team with any certainty at this point. This uncertainty of the future is exciting especially with all undeveloped youth on our team under a new coach who specializes in development.

Thanks for the last-minute posts, folks!

We're still a long way from the NBA season, but Dante Exum is getting regular playing time with the Australian national team (or the "Airbnb Boomers," as they are branded down under) in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.

The downside: our young Aussie is struggling a bit with inconsistent performances. In a Tuesday loss to Finland, Exum tallied 10 points, two assists and one rebound in almost 20 minutes. Decent, but as one of only a few NBA-caliber players in the game, less than one might hope. Exum was worse in the previous game, a loss to Lithuania, with only five points (on 2/9 shooting) and four assists in 23 minutes.(Admittedly, Lithuania are a much stronger team than Finland, but still.)

It's clear that, as much as Jazz fans would like our prized rookie to come right in and dominate, young Dante has a long way to go. That he's playing competitive basketball right now is a good thing, I think, and will hopefully keep him in shape and hungry going into training camp. But he's not the overnight savior of the Jazz franchise. Not yet, anyway.

Is Exum better than other point guards of his draft class, though? Too early to say on that, either. Here's a video from USA Today featuring former Rocket and noted Jazz-killer Eddie Johnson, looking pretty befuddled as he attempts to declare an early winner between Exum and Suns rookie Tyler Ennis:

At time of writing, the Jazz had not yet closed a rumored deal with former Knicks guard Toure' Murry. Our own Spencer Campbell has the details for you here.

You should also check out the scouting report on Murry that Amar put together last month. I've never seen the guy play, myself. (Murry, not Amar. Neither, actually. Never mind.) But Dennis Lindsey must see something in him to be willing to offer Murry roughly the same salary the Jazz could have paid to keep Diante Garrett around. More upside, perhaps? We'll see if/when the deal goes final.

Really, though, no player acquisition is likely to make that big a difference on the Jazz's upcoming season at this point. Any other bodies the Jazz acquire will either be trade fodder or injury insurance. The guys we've got are the guys who will play. And I'm fine with that.