The Utah Jazz have made it known that they have financial flexibility going into the 2013-14 NBA season. What does that mean to us Jazz fans and why do we care? Why should it matter to us if the Jazz are in a good spot financially? All we want is a team that’s going to give us W’s in the left hand column of the standings. Well while having flexibility definitely doesn’t put W’s in the wins column it does hopefully present future success for any franchise that doesn’t have all the money in the world to spend on their players (cough Lakers cough). This is what Utah Jazz management is hoping to happen in the future with their financial flexibility.
Current $$$ Situation
First I want to fill you in, if you already didn’t know, on the current Jazz money situation. Currently the Jazz have 5 players under contract for next season. Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans will be playing in a Jazz uniform pending a trade. Marvin Williams has a player option for 7.5 million that he will most definitely exercise and the Jazz have a $700,000 option to bring Kevin Murphy back next season. Adding all of these players salaries together puts the Jazz current payroll to a grand total of $25,696,809. And by the off-chance that Marvin doesn’t pick up his option and the Jazz don’t bring back Kevin Murphy then the Jazz payroll would be $17,407,937.
Why am I telling you all of this? Every NBA team HAS to have the total amount of their payroll equal 85% of that year’s salary cap. Last years cap was $58.044 Million so the minimum cap was $49.337 Million. Let’s pretend that the salary cap stays the same as last year, that would mean that the Jazz have to spend $23,640,191 before the season starts next season. That’s almost double what they have on the current payroll and that includes both Marvin Williams and Kevin Murphy. That’s a lot of coin my friends. The Jazz have to spend a bunch of money this off season regardless if they plan on putting a basketball team out on the floor under NBA rules.
My first scenario comes from the rumor going around that the Boston Celtics are targeting Paul Millsap this off-season. Well last season the Boston Celtics had the 8th highest payroll in the NBA and next season are still on the books for $73,064,519. That payroll will already be in the luxury tax for next season and under the new CBA will continue to get worse and worse for every year they stay in the luxury tax. Paul Millsap made $7.2 Million last season and is definitely looking for a raise after turning down the Jazz offer they extended before last season. The Celtics don’t have many options as far as signing Paul Millsap outright as free agent because they don’t have any flexibility on their payroll. It’s already set as is.
So does this mean they absolutely can’t acquire Paul Millsap for next year? No there are other options and thanks to the Jazz flexibility deals can be done. A sign and trade deal seems the most plausible as the Jazz could resign Millsap, assuming he wants to go to the Celtics, trade him to the Celtics and get players back in return for him so the Celtics can clear up some cap space to make room for Millsap. The players involved in this would have to make sense for both sides and would probably have draft picks and other things involved. I’m not going to get that deep into details and what the Jazz should demand from the Celtics (cough Rondo cough) but this is a scenario that would work for that type of situation if both teams had motivation to do it.
Second scenario is not near as complex as the first. Simply put is the Jazz have an advantage on the free agent market compared to other teams that don’t have as much flexibility. Two teams go after the same player, one team offers X amount of dollars but the player would like to make more money even if he is only worth as much as the first team offers. Team two offers more money to the free agent. The Jazz are team two here and while they may be overpaying for a player that’s probably what it will take to get a player to come to Utah since we are a small market team and don’t have the glamour of moving to a New York or Los Angeles.
Both of these scenarios are what the Jazz are talking about when they say they have financial flexibility and this is why it benefits us as Jazz fans. If the Jazz are patient and wait for the right deal then it will definitely benefit them in the future. It’s not a for sure thing you can count on and we don’t know when it will actually benefit this team but it does give the Jazz a bunch more options than if they were up to their necks in their current payroll like many NBA teams already are. Hopefully Jazz management makes the correct moves and brings some new players in that can push this franchise over the top to compete for an NBA title sometime in the near future.