Now that the second round of the playoffs is upon us, it's time to start thinking about next year. Let the Atlantas and Houstons of the world fight and scrap to make NBA history. The Jazz can just sit back, relax, throw on some jean shorts, browse Craigslist for a good massuese, and plan for the future. We are living large. Anyway, I know Kevin O'Conner has a lot on his plate, so I'm volunteering to help out. Here's the first edition of "Crotty Kid's Guide to the Jazz' 2009 Offseason." Feel free to forward this link to KevinOConner@utahjazz.com.
As any good MBA student can tell you, before you do anything in life you absolutely have to have a business plan. Absent that, you at least need some ground rules. And if no ground rules are available, then one overriding, biblical commandment is essential. The Jazz' 2010 offseason commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Pay the Luxury TaxEven though the Millers have said that they would go over the tax "if a championship were imminent," let's not kid ourselves. Greg Miller would rather watch two dudes kissing for a couple of hours in his daddy's theater than get burned by the luxury tax. You can bet that the Jazz top guns have been instructed to do everything possible to get under the tax for next year.
Now comes the math. The luxury tax for 2009 was $71.15 million, while the Jazz were comfortably below that level at $65.6 million. But, with Deron's extension kicking in next year, the Jazz' 2010 payroll slightly exceeds the $71 million level if all of the player options are exercised. And that's with only nine players signed. What does it all mean? As it stands, we are paying the luxury tax next year. And there's not much the Jazz can do about it.
So, every personnel decision this summer will be with an eye on cost-cutting: if we are fated to pay the tax, at least we aren't paying too much. That means that every decision, from resigning Millsap, to exercising the team option on Fesenko, to trading our draft pick for money (you heard it hear first), will be viewed in terms of "how much is this going to cost" and not "how much does this cost benefit our team." It could be an ugly summer.