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The Utah Jazz are worth a lot of money Edition - The Downbeat #1824

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Money, money, money!

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are worth a lot of money, and a big part of that has been using their money smartly, and making calculated moves. They aren't always blockbusters, but especially when you look at how the team has mined undrafted players you can see they do their homework. But what about second round picks, remember when the Jazz used to dominate that market? What has happened over the last two decades of drafts? We look into that, and also check out the NBA Playoffs, NBA Draft, Rudy Gobert's tweet, and Mehmet Okur's latest breathtaking display.


Forbes knows money. They know which countries are the richest, which citizens have the most bank, and even which fictional characters sleep on the most gold coins in their money pits. They also know the NBA. They came out with their most recent valuations of NBA Franchises and it's worth the click over to their site here. As assumed, the New York Knicks are the tops, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Clippers -- but the average team is now worth $1.25 Billion dollars to own. So, yeah, let me get that GoFundMe thing set up. They also put up this slick video:

DB 1824 - Forbes Video

N.B. This is a static image, I could not embed the player.

Kurt Badenhausen writes:

These are slam-dunk days for NBA owners. We saw it in a big way when the league extended its TV deals with ESPN /ABC and TNT in October 2014 to the tune of $24 billion over nine years, which was triple the previous annual rate. Now, other properties are ramping up their commitment to the league, with sponsors often signing new deals at twice or even up to four times the previous amounts in order to get a piece of the U.S. sports league with the best global prospects.

PepsiCo PEP -2.15% replaced Coca-Cola KO +0.00% as the league's official beverage partner after 28 years. Anheuser-Busch InBev extended its partnership with the NBA another four years in December. Tissot signed on in October as the league's first ever official timekeeper for a contract worth a reported $200 million over six years. Verizon replaced Sprint in November in a deal worth more than $400 million over three years. It is a marketing and content relationship, with NBA programming available on Verizon's go90 mobile video service.

In June, Nike NKE +0.00% re-affirmed its dominance of the basketball market by signing a deal to take over rights from Adidas to outfit NBA teams starting with the 2017-18 season. The eight-year contract is worth more than $1 billion annually, up from the $400 million that Adidas was paying.

The story is the same on the local TV front. The New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks started new contracts this year. The Dallas Mavericks inked an extension in the fall with Fox Sports Southwest worth more than $50 million a year. The Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers both begin new local TV deals with the 2016-17 season. As many as 10 teams are expected to sign new deals or reset their existing TV contracts by the end of the 2017-18 season at big increases.

The result: The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.25 billion, up 13% over last year on the heels of a 74% gain the previous year after the national media deals were completed.

- Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes, 2016

So, who cares right? The Jazz have no huge TV deal, how much are they actually worth? The Jazz clock in at #20, with a current value of $0.875 Billion, and have an operating income of $27.5 Million. This is a one year change of +3%! Woo! The Five teams worth more than the Jazz are the Portland Trailblazers, Washington Wizards,Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings, and Orlando Magic. Orlando is only $0.025 Billion more valuable though. The five Teams directly after the Jazz are the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis Grizzlies. And the least valuable team is the New Orleans Pelicans, valued by Forbes to be worth only $0.650 Billion dollars. You could buy the Pelicans, or you could buy 88% of a Stealth Bomber. Both are useless in their own ways. The Pelicans can't get people to watch their home games, and a plane with less than 100% of it's parts isn't going to fly.

Utah at #20 isn't a great rank. According to Reddit, the Jazz are #25 in Market size rank. And every game thread we see just how few Utah Jazz fans there are in general. For a team without a big TV deal, without an All-Star, without a new arena that they own, and without any titles . . . just how high do you think the Jazz could ever be valued at? One Billion Dollars? $1.25 Bn? I don't know. But it's better to be in the middle 10 of this list than the bottom 10. And right now the Jazz are (barely) holding onto that 20th spot, which is like the 16th place in the playoff team's W/L record.



Last night Rudy Gobert tweeted out a cryptic 140 character social medians (I don't know if there is an SI unit for using Facebook or twitter). Here it is:

What do you think he's talking about? Me? I think he's talking about Derrick Favors being left off the short-long (as opposed to long-short) list to make Team USA. I could very well be wrong. For all I know he's talking about Call of Duty K:D ratio or something.



Mehmet Okur, everybody. Retirement takes no prisoners.



There are at least 41 games left this season. Right now the Jazz are hanging in there with a 18-23 record, and holding onto the 8th playoff post in the Western Conference. This is what the non-elites look like in the West right now:

Team W L % GB Home games Left
5 Memphis Grizzlies 24 19 55.81% 0.0 18
6 Dallas Mavericks 24 19 55.81% 0.0 22
7 Houston Rockets 22 21 51.16% 2.0 18
8 Utah Jazz 18 23 43.90% 5.0 20
9 Portland Trail Blazers 19 25 43.18% 5.5 22
10 Sacramento Kings 17 23 42.50% 5.5 20
11 Denver Nuggets 16 26 38.10% 7.5 20
12 New Orleans Pelicans 14 27 34.15% 9.0 23
13 Phoenix Suns 13 30 30.23% 11.0 20
14 Minnesota Timberwolves 13 30 30.23% 11.0 18
15 Los Angeles Lakers 9 34 20.93% 15.0 23

As you can see it's not out of the question to expect a team to make up 5.0 games in the W/L column over 41 games. But what's good for the goose could be good for the gander: Utah is only 5.0 games behind Memphis and Dallas while New Orleans is only 4.0 games behind Utah. The West is tight and some teams will play better in the second half than in the first half of the season, and vice versa.

I am holding onto the belief that our team will one day approach being down only ONE starter at some point (Dante Exum) and be able to actually show the world that they are kind of good. Will this happen before the Jazz are overtaken by either Portland, Sacramento, or New Orleans? (I don't think Denver is ready yet to be a threat, even if Danilo Gallinari is balling right now.) Time will tell. But I do feel like the playoffs are likely still.

Of course, Zack Kempner of e-mails me to give me a quantitative value for that qualitative feeling I have -- and it comes out to only a 51.65% chance of making the playoffs this season. He breaks it down further:

Here are numberFire's NBA projections heading into this week:

Wins: 38.39 - 43.61 (Change: -0.94 wins)

Division: 0% (Change: 0%)

Playoffs: 51.65% (Change: -14.75%)

  • 1-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
  • 2-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
  • 3-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
  • 4-seed: 0.1% (Change: -0.25%)
  • 5-seed: 2.45% (Change: -2.2%)
  • 6-seed: 7.65% (Change: -3.9%)
  • 7-seed: 15.95% (Change: -6.9%)
  • 8-seed: 25.5% (Change: -1.5%)

Conference Champion: 0.1% (Change: -0.3%)

NBA Champion: 0.05% (Change: 0%)

nERD: -0.6 (Change: 0.1)

Power Rankings: 15 (Last Week: 16)

Finally, the biggest power rankings riser, based on nERD, is the Milwaukee Bucks/Boston Celtics (+3). The biggest faller is the Miami Heat (-4). You can see our updated power rankings at here.

Thanks a lot Zach for this info! Now, a 50/50 split -- even if the Jazz are at 51.65% -- isn't a lot of security right now, but it's still only January. There's a lot of uncertainty in the league that will have to play out over time. Please visit numberFIRE for lots of great info!

The good people at help illustrate the short term / long term utility of actually making the playoffs vs. being in the lottery. By their rankings, the Jazz -- with their 15th pick in the draft (by virtue of being the playoff team with the worst record), and three second rounders -- have the 13th best hand going into this draft. If for whatever reason the Jazz were not going to make the playoffs the team would go from the 15th pick (using today's standings) to having the 9th or 10th most ping-pong balls in the lotto. That would, regardless of the outcome, give Dennis Lindsey a lot more to play with in the off-season than two playoff home game ticket stubs would.

But hey, either way, playoffs or lotto, I think our front office will try to make the best of whatever outcome. Personally I see the benefit of both. If you make the playoffs you actually make the playoffs. You show your players, free agents, and fans that you are trying to win -- and have finally returned to actually winning. Of course, winning in the playoffs is a lot different than a first round exit. Another lotto pick would help with the depth issue while possibly giving the team another solid rotation guy on the cheap. Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, Alec Burks, and Trey Lyles were all selected between #9 and #12 in the draft. All four look to be important pieces going forward. Adding another 19 or 20 year old next to our young team isn't the worst possible outcome for an injury plagued season.

Ultimately, que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, because we're not a wizard like Dennis Lindsey.



All of this playoffs and/or draft talk always leads me to this dark conclusion -- the Utah Jazz used to be a team that occasionally flubbed 1st round picks but made something out of 2nd rounders. Now our second round picks are less useful than undrafted player prospects. Over the last two decades here are the 2nd round picks for the team:

Draft Player Rnd # Player Rnd # Result
1 1996 Shandon Anderson 2 54 -- Rotation player on NBA Finals teams
2 1997 Nate Erdmann 2 56 --
3 1998 Torraye Braggs 2 57 --
4 1999 Eddie Lucas 2 58 --
5 2000 Kaniel Dickens 2 50 --
6 2001 Jarron Collins 2 52 -- Starter on playoff team
7 2002 Jamal Sampson 2 46 --
8 2003 Mo Williams 2 47 -- Played rookie season, then signed with Bucks
9 2004 -- --
10 2005 Robert Whaley 2 51 -- Essentially a character from HBO's The Wire
11 2006 Dee Brown 2 46 Paul Millsap 2 47 Great stories for both players
12 2007 Herbert Hill 2 55 -- Traded for Kyrylo Fesenko (2, 38)
13 2008 Ante Tomic 2 44 Tadija Dragicevic 2 53 Traded for Shan Foster and Mo Williams in multi-team trade
14 2009 Goran Suton 2 50 --
15 2010 Jeremy Evans 2 55 -- Won a dunk contest
16 2011 -- --
17 2012 Kevin Murphy 2 47 -- Traded after Rookie Season
18 2013 Erick Green 2 46 -- Traded for Rudy Gobert (1,27)
19 2014 Jarnell Stokes 2 35 -- Traded for 2016 2nd rounder, and what was in the mystery box (nothing)
20 2015 Olivier Hanlan 2 42 Dani Diez 2 54 Diez was traded for cash, and some old Penelope Cruz Betamax tapes

Shandon, Jarron, Maurice, and Paul were very solid 2nd round picks. They were all from the first decade in this historical list except Sap. Over the last 10 years, well, it's been more of the draft and stash or "this is only an asset and not a player" idea. Utah still has the rights to some of these guys.

  • Ante Tomic is is playing in the ACB league in Spain for FC Barcelona, and is averaging 13.0 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 21.1 mpg.
  • Goran Suton is playing in the ACB league in Spain for FIATC Joventut, where he is averaging 8.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg in 23.7 mpg. (Actually looking more into it, the Jazz no longer hold his draft rights.)
  • Olivier Hanlan is playing in the LKL league in Latvia for BC Zalgiris, where he is averaging 9.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 1.6 apg in 21.9 mpg.

I don't know if any of these guys will ever play in the NBA, or if the Jazz will ever use them as actual assets either. I'm less bullish on 2nd rounders that the Jazz go into the draft with. A guy like Raul Neto -- someone they traded for -- doesn't fit into this group for me. Utah is going into this next draft with three second rounders, and I don't think that we're going to find the next Paul Millsap. We may find the next Nate Erdmann though. Or another draft and stash or immediate asset to be sold.

So while the playoffs look great, unless they are a 1st round sweep it's clear to me that the lotto could also be great, but the draft overall isn't likely to be amazing either. If the team isn't careful they could be drawn into the gravitational pull of long term mediocrity. And that probably isn't worth a lot.

On the other hand, this Derrick Zoolander-level instructional video by Fes is priceless.

I can only imagine what the gag reel of this looks like.