Today is free agency day in the National Basketball Association.
In other words, the day the Jazz get super serious about improving.
Last week’s draft was important, as they landed a player five spots above what they should have. They traded the 14 and 21 picks for the rights to No. 9 Trey Burke.
Although Burke was an immensely popular choice with Jazz fans, reality is that he’ll probably become a starter, but not necessarily a star. The top No. 9 draftees since 1989 are Dirk Nowitzki and Tracy McGrady. Other good players: Amare Stoudamire, Andre Igoudala, Gordon Hayward and Joakim Noah.
Everyone else is the middlin’ or worse area.
Which means free agency is huge for the Jazz in terms of improvement.
Landing Burke was important, but on a weak draft year, the No. 9 pick isn’t likely to put the Jazz in the Finals (even though the Nos. 13 and 16 picks once did).
Jazz management would readily admit the work isn’t done.
Drafting is where teams build for the future. Trading and free agency is where they get the game-changers.
So the draft is over, but the heavy work lies ahead.
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Some random observations on the Jazz, following an eventful week: Burke, Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto are nice people, the kind the Jazz want in the organization… Greg Miller is opening up quite a bit. Though he’ll never be the news source his father was, he’s becoming more comfortable with the media. To his credit, he doesn’t seem to make excuses for something he says. Once it’s out there, he owns it. For instance, he says the spats he had with Karl Malone were ill advised, but he didn’t deny them or try to spin them…Did you see Burke’s parents doing interviews this week? Clearly, they’ve been in front of TV cameras. They didn’t appear the least bit nervous or hesitant…Lastly, the Jazz will apparently be in Utah for a long time. Miller said his father considered the franchise a community gift, and that unless the team started costing jobs in other areas of the LHM Group, they wouldn’t sell the team. Right now, he said, the LHM Group is doing very well financially.
Fact is, the Millers have all the houses, cars, etc., vacations they’d ever need. Selling the franchise for more money might not be as enticing as one might think. Last week Miller said he’s not even considering selling the Jazz, calling his job as CEO “a stewardship” over the things his father established.
So don’t expect the Millers to sell the Jazz anytime soon, even if someone comes in with a big offer.