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NBA Playoffs 2015: Big market teams getting star calls and winning, Utah Jazz not moving to Seattle -- Downbeat #1622

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NBA Playoffs and star treatment; more changes in stock for the LHM Group of companies; Bill Simmons parts ways with ESPN; Deron Williams returns to Utah rumors; Mart Eaton + Elton John = ?; and NBA 2K15 MyTeam stories . . .

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last night in the NBA Playoffs the Chicago Bulls won on a last second game winning three by Derrick Rose (who finished with 30/7/7 to LeBron James' 27/8/14), and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated the Houston Rockets in the first (33-24) and third (35-19) quarters on their way to a 25 point victory. J.J. Redick had 31 points off of just 14 shots and, yeah, when you have a guy shooting that hot it can change the outcome of a game. I know that for many people who are teens or in their early 20s this is the best possible era of basketball. As I am fully well devolving into one of those "get off my lawn" types, I harken back towards a different game. One where you don't talk to the ref all game long, or throw a hissy fit if you don't get to the line. I love the athleticism of this era's players, and the floor spacing with the three point line is great. But I really do miss bigmen who come into the league already knowing five different post moves; or guards who could, you know, actually guard someone. I am not alone. Utah Jazz bigman and NBA Finalist Antoine Carr had this to say last night, while watching the games:

I agree with him, as the general level of physicality just seems to be largely removed, unless you are boxing out. The game has evolved, to the point where if you are pretty much just a shooter you can become a god (MVP this year was Stephen Curry). I am absolutely certain that Gary Payton or Isiah Thomas or John Stockton would have wrecked Curry in a 80s or 90s era reffed game. Zeke would break his ankles by forcing him to play defense. Stock would break his jaw with an incidental elbow off the ball. And The Glove would break his soul with trash talk. He's still a great shooter, though. The natural evolution of what this era of the game wants from it's point guards.And the stars of today are great players, but with the amount of crying they do -- constantly -- it's almost as if they were raised in a star based system, and not one where you had to earn that level of favoritism.

It's not wrong to question their toughness.

The game has changed, and so have the players. And yet I am glued to the screen still. I wonder where the game is going in the next decade . . . probably the further evolution of the power forward. Back in the old days he was just a defender who occasionally got rebounds and put backs. Then he became a strong inside scorer. Every year since 2000 he's been expected to expand his range outwards. Now we have Draymond Green, a guy who is another short, stocky guy who is a defender, but now is very comfortable taking threes. The flip side is that today's game is not one that Antoine Carr would be very suited for. He had a nice face up game in his last few seasons, but back when he played for the Hawks or Spurs as a rotation guy his style of PF would not be appreciated by the NBA today, one which exists to protect the stars (and inflate them) because that's how you make money.

Back in the day, it was about proving manhood; not selling TV deals. Upsets happened, as did physical play and the mythological concept called "playing defense". Now, without fail, the largest TV market in each playoff series is the one looking like they're going to win. That's not my NBA.

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So, by far the most important news right now is not really news . . . but rather wild speculation. What we know is that almost a year ago to the date our group broke the story of LHM Group of Companies CFO Bob Hyde being ushered into retirement.

After nearly 30 years as a Larry H. Miller Group of Companies employee, current Utah Jazz CFO and president of Fanzz retail stores Bob Hyde will retire this summer.

A source within the LHM Group told SLC Dunk that Hyde will serve in his current position through the 2014 draft and then plans to retire. Utah Jazz director of public relations Jonathan Rinehart later confirmed the report.

"We greatly appreciate all of Bob's hard work and numerous contributions to the Jazz and Larry H. Miller Group of Companies over the last 30 years," Rinehart said.

- Peter J. Novak, Layton Shumway, SLC Dunk, 2014

Then last March the CEO of the LHM Group of companies, Greg Miller -- who is also Larry H. Miller's eldest, stepped down. As SLTRIB beat writer Aaron Falk wrote back then:

A major shake-up of the Larry H. Miller Group's leadership won't have many visible impacts, officials say, on the organization's most visible company: the Utah Jazz.

On Monday, Greg Miller announced he has stepped down as CEO of the family's network of 80-plus companies and that brother Steve Miller was relinquishing his day-to-day duties as president of Miller Sports Properties.

"This is the right move for me personally, for my family and for the business," Greg Miller said in a news release sent to company employees Monday morning. "It has been a privilege to fill the role of CEO and to be a steward for this outstanding organization that my parents sacrificed so much to create and develop."

The changes are major, but Jazz President Randy Rigby said they will not have noticeable impacts on the basketball franchise.

"Our reporting from a Jazz end will continue to be to the Miller family as it relates to player moves," he said. "That will not change at all. Their commitment to the direction of this franchise, they've never wavered, and it's never been better, and it will continue to stay as such."

Rigby added later that "the Miller family still runs the Jazz and remains engaged and committed to building a championship-caliber team."

- Aaron Falk. Salt Lake Tribune, 2015

There was nothing to fear from this top-down change. There still shouldn't be, but today it was reported that the luxury item of the Miller Sports Park is going to close down. Jody Genessy (and Geoff Liesik and Jason Lee) of the Deseret News breaks it down as such:

One of Larry H. Miller's dreams is coming to an end.

In an unexpected move, the Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations on Oct. 31 of this year, the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies announced Friday, confirming a Deseret News report.

"On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility," Larry H. Miller Group of Companies owner Gail Miller said in a statement released by the organization.

In its press release, the Miller group announced that it had indeed decided to not renew the lease on the land in Tooele County and to close the track, as was first reported by the Deseret News.

It is not known whether another entity will take over ownership of the track, which was a pet project and passion for the late Larry H. Miller.

This development came as a big surprise to Tooele County commissioner Shawn Milne. As of late Friday morning, he had not heard anything from the Millers about their company not renewing the lease.

The report is "absolutely news to me," Milne said. "How unfortunate."

- Jody Genessy et al., Deseret News, 2015

There are a few things to unpack here, but let's remember not to jump to conclusions:

  • You don't give up your luxuries unless you can no longer afford to have them
  • A sports franchise is a huuu-uuge luxury for a for profit business group to pay for
  • But when you are left with a choice you want to give up the luxuries you don't care about, in order to keep a hold of the ones that you do

From the information that people have come to us with, and this may be telling tales out of school a bit, it is clear that the poor economy of a global recession does also hurt 1%ers. I don't know how many people a married to the idea of watching movies in theaters instead of the many legal online streaming options. I also don't know how many people need a brick and mortar store to buy hats and t-shirts from, when many sports retailers are moving to online ordering. I know that many fewer people are buying cars. And, well, I see a lot of green seats at Jazz home games. I don't know every business that the LHM Group of companies runs, but I do know that they don't have an operating budget built to just burn money.

I am assuming, and this is where we deviate a bit off of script here, that the Miller Sports part was not a core property or venue for the LHM Group of companies. And if a new board of directors who are not yes-men, family, or otherwise tied with sentimentality make a decision to get rid of something the Patriarch loved, then it does make financial sense to do so. I believe that the Utah Jazz are in good hands. And I fully well believe that the LHM Group of companies are trying to hire the right people to put them in good hands again.

Not keeping the Miller Sports Park running doesn't mean the team is moving to Seattle. So please let's not go there.

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But if we do want to talk about other rampant speculation and insane business practices, ESPN has fired, decided to let the contract run out, Corb'd the "Sportsguy" Bill Simmons. This is such big news that not only did online sports media gossip rag Deadspin write about it, but so did the New York Times! Richard Sandomir writes:

When Bill Simmons learned on Friday morning that his nearly 15-year-old relationship with ESPN was over, he responded with something uncharacteristic: silence.

He said nothing to his 3.7 million followers on Twitter. He did not pick up the phone or answer requests for comment. His agent and publicist followed his sounds of silence.

Simmons's decision not to respond to the announcement by John Skipper, the president of ESPN, that his contract was not being renewed was surprising. He had built an empire on having his voice heard, often quite loudly, in a variety of roles: columnist, podcaster, editor in chief of the website Grantland, television analyst, and one of the creators of the "30 for 30" documentary series.

Simmons seemed to have been blindsided by the timing of ESPN's decision, which came more than four months before his contract is to expire, at the end of September. An ESPN executive, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Skipper had told Simmons's agent, James Dixon, that a decision had been made to end the relationship and that an announcement was coming. But Skipper did not call Simmons before going public, the ESPN executive said.

- Richard Sandomir, New York Times, 2015

Word? That's cold. When I finally get fired from SB Nation I don't want to learn about it through social media. Then again, I learned that Andy was leaving SLC Dunk to join Salt City Hoops that way -- so maybe that's just how the kids these days do things? The speed of the internet, and all? Anyway, back to the Sportsguy. I'm not a fan of him, his act, or his opinions -- but he really did make something. I don't know if blogs, as we know them, exist in the sporting world without him. And I know that Grantland was a great place for a select few things. But I don't know if I'm a fervent follower of Bill Simmons.

I've had a few occasions to be around him in person at sports events as a member of the fraternal order of sports media. (Each time at the NBA Draft the last two seasons.) That's hardly the best event to network in, or even just have a simple conversation around . . . so I am not going to draw any conclusions of who he is from those times. I wish him all the best, and hope he finds a way to continue doing what he loves.

I'm not a BS fan. But as someone who loves the idea of working from home, writing and talking about sports all day, I support him fully. He's obviously going to be okay. He'll get paid. He'll join another network. And at the end of the day, he'll still be that unicorn of a regular homer fan who made it big and made ESPN a lot of money.

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That's more than I ever want to talk about Bill Simmons. Let's talk about the Utah Jazz instead? Let's check in with Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams . . .

DB 1622 - Mehmet Okur Deron Williams

Oh, they are playing golf together! And I am glad Memo used the #fun hashtag. (The only one Derrick Favors checks in on.) (Trey Burke also has a mobile alert for #EastAfricanWomen ) (Oh, Inside Jokes are fun) Speaking of Deron Williams . . . Stefan Bondy, of the New York Daily News had this rumor to tweet:

Ridiculous! While it would be fun, and all, it would totally be the wrong move. Deron still is an NBA Starter. He isn't going to be the defender that Dante Exum can be. And yes, he's an obvious "today" upgrade over Dante, Trey, and Bryce Cotton. But Dennis Lindsey isn't angling to make this the best possible Jazz team "today". We're still trying to develop, teach, and improve as a group of young guys.

I hold no ill will for D-Will being the first person to block me on twitter, but I don't think he fits in with what this team is currently building. I do love all the hard work he put in all those years ago in a Jazz jersey. But I don't see him trying to play for a West lotto team, and come off the bench -- while moving from being in an easier conference with greater media saturation. This is also why there's no way that Paul Millsap is going to leave the #1 team in the conference to return here to possibly be a bench player again either.

I love bringing the whole band back too, but it's not going to happen. We have our own band now. And this band is going to be great in time. Maybe we only see glimpses today. But what does Dennis Lindsey always say?

Not today.

Okay, maybe that was Syrio Forel. But then again, I haven't seen him *and* Dennis Lindsey in the same room. So if you wanted to tin-foil hat something from this DB it's that our General Manager didn't have an on-screen death, and is from bravos. And has some serious thunder thighs. (Which I guess is why Kevin O'Connor wins that contest from Moni's Downbeat yesterday.)

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Mark Eaton. KSL. What are you doing?

Thanks to Moni for letting us all know about this video! She's the BEST! VISIT HER SITE!

I'm not going to complain. I use Mark Eaton as my starter in NBA 2K15 MyTeam, and he's awesome. Because I'm insane and hand calculate the stats from the games I play, in a video game, I know that he's averaging 6.5 ppg, 17.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 spg, and 2.4 bpg in 30.8 mpg. (63 games so far) Big Mark is shooting 64.23 FG%, and I probably should get him the ball a little more, as he's also making 81.36 FT% (59 FTA so far). In raw +/- the Jazz are +888 with him on the court so far. So, more Elton John / Mark Eaton mixes please.

And because I know people are going to ask, so here's my 13 man MyTeam right now:

MyTeam Player Card Per Game stats (if 48 min games)
Player Pos Type Tm Season Rating MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
1 John Stockton 1 Sapphire UTA 1997-98 93 34.1 11.4 1.7 17.6 1.5 0.1
2 Pete Maravich 2 1 Onyx UTA 1976-77 95 16.0 9.5 1.3 2.3 0.4 0.1
3 Dominique Wilkins 3 2 Ruby ATL 1985-86 95 33.1 21.7 5.8 3.1 1.2 0.2
4 Karl Malone 4 5 P.Diamond UTA 1997-98 99 34.8 40.3 10.5 2.0 0.7 0.7
5 Mark Eaton 5 Gold UTA 1984-85 83 30.8 6.5 17.1 1.5 1.3 2.4
6 Deron Williams 1 2 Onyx UTA 2008-09 89 15.7 9.8 0.9 4.0 0.4 0.2
7 Kyle Korver 2 3 Ruby ATL 2014-15 87 25.1 15.1 2.0 1.6 0.4 0.2
8 Glen Rice 3 2 Gold CHA 1996-97 87 26.9 18.0 3.6 1.6 0.6 0.2
9 Tom Chambers 4 5 Sapphire PHX 1989-90 85 14.3 6.5 3.1 2.0 0.5 0.5
10 Al Jefferson 5 4 Gold CHA 2014-15 87 14.4 7.1 6.6 0.9 0.4 0.6
11 Mo Williams 1 2 Onyx CLE 2008-09 85 13.3 9.3 0.8 4.0 0.5 0.1
12 Andrei Kirilenko 3 4 Onyx UTA 2005-06 84 12.3 3.8 3.4 1.9 0.4 0.4
13 Paul Millsap 4 Ruby ATL 2014-15 86 8.6 6.9 2.1 0.6 0.4 0.1

The obvious theme here is "Jazz players," and while Nique and Rice didn't suit up for the team, Nique was our draft pick in 1982, and Rice was traded for in 2003. Anyway, with the playoffs ending in June, and all the FIBA stuff not starting until late August, for a while the only basketball we may have is imaginary simulated basketball . . . *shudders* . . . the only thing worse than that is reading about someone ELSE playing video games.