UPDATE 1:49 pm: Greg Miller, the guy who owns the Jazz, shot down the sale idea with this tweet on Monday afternoon.
Speculation of the Jazz being sold is unfortunate & irresponsible. Thanks to unprecedented fan & sponsor support the Jazz is solid as ever.
11:28 am: I will tell you up front I am dubious about this. Actually, dubious is not a strong enough word, I think this is spin and… well, I can’t use the other word in a family blog such as this.
A source suggested to the Deseret News that the Utah Jazz lost $17 million last season and that if the new labor deal isn’t a good enough one for small markets the long-time owners, the Miller family, may try and sell the team.
In fact, one source with intimate knowledge of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies’ inner workings speculated that small-market-related economic hardships could force Jazz ownership to place a “For Sale” sign on the franchise. The source told the Deseret News that the Jazz were expected to report losses in the $17 million range for the 2010-11 season.
“If I was a betting man,” the source said, “my guess is that the Millers will sell the team within the next five years, unless this CBA changes the formula so that the team can make some money.”
Now, even the reporter (Jody Genessy) sounded like he questioned this and Real Salt Lake owner and former Knicks executive Dave Checketts thought that sounded far-fetched. That said, go read the whole story, it’s a great look into small market team finances.
We want to add, that while the Jazz may have lost money last year, they were tax payers — they were more than $5 million over the luxury tax threshold. They also will be over the salary cap whenever the lockout ends, the Jazz have been spenders.
What’s more, the last offer was already a good deal for small market owners. The league said it lost $300 million last season and the players gave back that much salary in the most recent talks, agreeing to the 50/50 split. Plus, the owners were on the verge of having a new revenue sharing program that would have tripled money that comes to smaller market clubs. That would more than cover the financial losses of the Jazz.
The Miller family is not going to sell the Jazz. Not going to happen. As former Jazz beat writer Ross Siller suggested on twitter, one reason is it would hurt the image of their other businesses too much.
This isn’t all about the money anymore. What held up the last deal with these same small market owners chasing the Holy Grail of competitive balance. Something that is a myth, something no system they put in place can achieve. The Jazz have been successful in a small market for years because they made smart decisions with players and drafted well. The only reason they would not be successful in the future is if they stop doing those things. It’s not the system.