SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The common KSL’S UnRivaled joke is that the Utah Jazz were a hamstring and an ankle away from competing, or even winning an NBA title. The reference is to the injuries suffered by Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell and ultimately why the Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the playoffs.
This week the Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, earlier this year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and the Tampa Bay Rays made the World Series last year. They now have the nickname: “Champa Bay” which is quite catchy.
So what does Tampa Bay have that Salt Lake City or Utah doesn’t? An NFL team can be fairly fair with a salary cap and other ways to allow teams to compete, but the Bucs have been ugly for most of their history.
What has changed is being bold in bringing in free agent quarterback Tom Brady and it paid off generously with a Super Bowl win last year, and a good chance to repeat for the year at to come.
There are a lot of factors like ownership, players wanted to go to Florida which is tax advantageous for professional athletes or following great players like Brady for the chance to win a championship.
Utah teams must take risks
Playing it safe isn’t something fans really want to hear when it comes to their favorite team. In the NBA, there are thresholds to make sure teams don’t spend what they have to make a title team. This still happens even with the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax, and some homeowners don’t care while others have to be a little tighter on their wallets.
The Utah Jazz have generally not been a team that would exceed the luxury tax. They would draft and build their team that way and be creative in trading or signing free agents. It doesn’t go further to win a championship, and it’s rare for a team to draft two Hall of Famers like Karl Malone and John Stockton.
KSL Sports Scott Mitchell is keen to think big not only for the Utah Jazz, but also for the University of Utah football team who have come very close to being the Pac-12 champion.
“We have to think bigger. Thinking bigger means you have to go out and take action to be vulnerable, ”Mitchell said. “It’s like the University of Utah, they’re in the Pac-12, a Power 5 conference and the potential to get a college football playoff bid, and the potential to go to the Rose Bowl. This is not a pipe dream, you are in the conversation and you need to change direction.
“Mark Harlan, when he was hired as AD in Utah, said he wanted to win championships. It’s the same with the Utah Jazz, if you want to pay money to the people in your organization, they’re probably not going to win any championships. You have to go out and be bold and make choices that stretch people’s minds.
Making bold statements can put a lot of pressure on these athletes to win, but sometimes it’s necessary to show that your program or team can come out and win the championship they desire. So for Harlan to say he wants Utah athletics to win titles, he really does mean it.
The football team have been in a pair of Pac-12 title games and are very close, but it’s not enough. Titles are what fans, players, coaches and everyone else want.
The Utah Jazz are very close and a few injuries really far from champions, but the tough part ahead is how to keep this team in the game. Ryan Smith is the new owner and in his first offseason and the main priority is figuring out what to do with Mike Conley.
Its maximum deal allowed would place the Jazz well above the luxury tax and that will be a tough choice to make with a new owner. Seeing how good Jazz was last year and so close to a title, bringing Conley back and breaking the luxury tax is what Jazz needs to do to win an NBA title. Then they can get creative to get actors to join that team next year.
Go out and dare to win a title and now is the time for Jazz to take the plunge, even if it is expensive.
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