KSL UNRIVALED

Utah Sports Teams Need To Be Bold To Win Championships

Jul 10, 2021, 11:43 AM
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The running joke on KSL’S UnRivaled 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 that Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell suffered 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 were in the World Series last year. They now have the nickname: “Champa Bay,” which is pretty catchy.

So, what does Tampa Bay have that Salt Lake City or Utah does not have? An NFL team can be fairly equitable with a salary cap and other ways to allow teams to be competitive, but the Bucs have been awful for the majority of their history.

What changed was being bold by bringing in free agent quarterback Tom Brady and it paid off handsomely with a Super Bowl victory this past year, and a good chance to repeat for the upcoming year.

There are a lot of factors like ownership, players wanted to go to Florida which is tax-friendly to pro athletes or following great players like Brady for the chance to win a championship.

Utah Teams Need To Take Chances

Playing it safe is not something that fans really want to hear when it comes to their favorite team. In the NBA, there are thresholds in place to make sure teams don’t spend whatever they have to make a title team. That still happens even with the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax, and some owners don’t care while others need to be a bit tighter on their wallets.

The Utah Jazz typically have not been a team that would go over the luxury tax. They would draft and build their team that way and be creative in trades or free agent signings. That only goes so far to win a championship, and it is rare for a team to draft two Hall of Famers like Karl Malone and John Stockton.

KSL Sports Scott Mitchell makes a point about thinking big for not only the Utah Jazz but also the University of Utah football team that has been very close to being Pac-12 champions.

“You need to think bigger. In thinking bigger it means you have to go out and actually make the moves to be vulnerable,” Mitchell said. “It is like the University of Utah, they are in the Pac-12, a Power 5 conference and the potential to get a bid to the College Football Playoff, and the potential to go to the Rose Bowl. It is not some pipe dream, you are in the conversation and you have to change their focus.

‘Mark Harlan when hired as the AD at Utah said he wants to win championships. It is the same thing with the Utah Jazz, if you want to nickel and dime people in your organization it probably is not going to win championships. You have to go out and be bold and make choices that stretch people’s mind.”

Making bold statements can put a lot of pressure on these athletes to win but sometimes it is necessary to show that your program or team can go out and win the championship they desire. So, for Harlan to say he wants Utah athletics to win titles, he means it.

The football team has been to a pair of Pac-12 title games and is very close but that is not good enough. Titles are what fans, players, coaches, and everyone wants.

The Utah Jazz are very close and just a pair of injuries really away from being champions, but the hard part upcoming is how to keep this team in contention. Ryan Smith is the new owner and in his first off-season and the main priority is what to do with Mike Conley.

His maximum deal allowable would put the Jazz well over the luxury tax and that will be a tough choice to make with new ownership. Seeing how good the Jazz were this past year and so close to a title, bringing back Conley and going over the luxury tax is what the Jazz must do to win an NBA title. Then they can be creative in getting role players to join this team next year.

Go out and be bold to win a title and now is the time for the Jazz to make the leap, even if costly.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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