Buyers or Sellers?
January 21, 2009 -
Fact: More millionaires are made during a recession than at any other time. Why? Because resources (stocks, real estate, materials, labor, etc.) are typically available at discounted prices, and those willing to take calculated risks have the potential to reap significant rewards.
Now replace “millionaire” with “title contender,” and let’s talk about the NBA. The weak economy has put a number of teams into a difficult financial position, so much so that premium talent is available at a discount. Other teams with deeper pockets are clearly looking to take advantage of the potential fire sales offered by their cash-strapped counterparts.
The Utah Jazz are at a major crossroads right now. The young team with a promising future that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2007 has actually regressed each season since. Greg Miller and the rest of the front office must decide whether they are gong to be buyers or seller in this market.
The Maynor/Harpring “trade” was a strong indication the Jazz are looking to sell. They gave up a promising young player for nothing more than financial relief. Considering how far above the luxury tax line the Jazz were, it’s easy to understand why management felt this was a necessary move. To a fan, however, it sends the message that winning is not the top priority. And fans are the ones who buy the tickets, memorabilia, etc that generate revenue. Alienate the fans, and you lose money.
The NBA is a business. I get that. But as with any business, focusing on short-term cost cutting can end up hurting your long-term profit potential. Conversely, absorbing some short-term risk/pain can pay huge dividends down the road. If you stop investing in the future of your business, the competition will eat you alive. The best thing the Jazz can do right now from both a basketball and a financial perspective is to buy aggressively.
The Jazz have an impressive collection of tradable assets in the form of all-star talent, expiring contracts, young players with upside, and even an unprotected 1st-round pick (likely to be in the top 10). They also have a number of roster defects they need to address. Only the most optimistic fan could believe that this team as currently constituted will ever win a title. One or two aggressive deals, however, could position Utah as a championship contender for at least the next three years.
A winning team is good for the bottom line.
Perhaps most importantly, the Jazz may be able to convince a certain Olympic point guard they are committed to winning so he doesn’t skip town three years from now. In case you're reading, Greg, his departure would be extraordinarily bad for the bottom line.
(P.S. I’m still working on my list of potential trades, but I’ve already come up with numerous “realistic” deals that would make the Jazz better.)
Jazz Need To Make A Deal
January 14, 2009 -
When asked about the potential of the Jazz making a trade before the February deadline, Jerry Sloan recently said, “I’d rather keep guys together so you have better continuity.” While that sentiment is understandable and may actually be the best course of action much of the time, it feels a little narrow-minded at the moment. The problem here is the core of this Jazz team has now been together for four seasons...and they seem to be getting worse every year.
Continuity is great if you’re winning. The Jazz are not (at least not enough).
Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The Jazz organization may not have received a clinical diagnosis yet, but the neighbors are beginning to point and whisper.
So who to trade? Honestly, for the right deal I would part with anyone on the roster aside from Deron Williams. With any trade, however, I would expect Carlos Boozer to be the centerpiece.
Many NBA analysts feel the Jazz will keep Boozer for the remainder of the season. That would be an enormous mistake, in my humble opinion. Follow my logic here:
1. The Jazz have no shot at winning the NBA title this season. In fact they’re not even in the playoff picture right now.
2. Carlos Boozer will be gone this summer. The Jazz can’t afford to pay him what he wants, and unlike this past summer, there will be a number of interested teams with the cap room to sign him.
3. It would be incredibly short-sighted to keep a player you know isn’t part of the team’s future just to potentially win a few more games this season. If the Jazz were legitimate title contenders, it would be a different story.
4. Even if they can’t get fair market value for Boozer, the Jazz would be better off receiving some kind of asset in return rather than losing an all-star for nothing.
I refuse to accept excuses from Utah’s front office that they can’t find a trade for Boozer that makes sense. I’ve heard the argument from some fans that no team will give up anything of value for Boozer when they know they could just sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Again, I don't buy it. The team that traded for Boozer would have his Bird rights and be able to offer him more money and a longer contract than any other team. At worst, they would have the ability to make a sign-and-trade or free up cap room to go after another free agent.
Rod Thorne, GM of the New Jersey Nets, recently said, "if you make a deal for an expiring free agent of the major variety, you’d have to feel your chances were very good to re-sign that player." Interesting comment, as I believe New Jersey could be a legitimate trading partner. I don't know Boozer personally, but he certainly seems to be motivate by money. Pay him, and he'll sign.
I could probably come up with at least 30 “realistic” potential Boozer trades that I would willingly accept. In fact I'll try to make good on that in my next post.