41. Jazz Owner Ryan Smith
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just 41 days from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number 41, new Jazz owner Ryan Smith.
Jazz Owner Ryan Smith
From 30,000 feet, it may not seem like much has changed with the Jazz over the last 11 months. The team is still built around two All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, they’re considered competitive, but not favorites in the West, and they’re still chasing that elusive championship.
However, upon closer inspection, it’s hard to find much that’s similar about the Jazz heading into the 2021-22 season and the organization two years ago under the watchful eye of the Miller family.
Smith purchased the team in October of 2020 and has overseen a series of changes to the franchise over the last year.
In December, Gobert agreed to a five-year, $205 million deal with the Jazz, the biggest in the team’s history.
Rather than skirtting the luxury tax, Smith and the team leaned into it during last year’s trade deadline acquiring guard Matt Thomas from the Toronto Raptors.
In April, Smith welcomed future Hall of Famer and NBA legend Dwyane Wade into the Jazz onwership group to partner with Mike Cannon-Brookes, and Ryan Sweeney.
After a disappointing exit in the second round of the playoffs, Jazz Vice President of Basketball Opertions Dennis Lindsey stepped down from his position and into an advisory role, clearing room for General Manager Justin Zanik to have a great input on team building.
With Zanik at the helm, Smith ponied up to re-sign guard Mike Conley to a three-year, roughly $70 million contract instead of seeing the All-Star guard bolt for another team.
The Jazz then signed former Conley teammate Rudy Gay and free agent Hassan Whiteside, while trading for Eric Paschall, pushing the Jazz luxury tax bill upwards of $40 million.
Though the Millers were always willing to push to keep the Jazz competitive, Smith has shown a new willingness to make high profile, and high-cost moves to keep the team at the forefront of the Western Conference playoff chase.
In addition to his more visible ownership style at games, Smith has also been more proactive in community outreach since taking ownership of the Jazz.
In January Smith announced he would be awarding a scholarship to a student from an underrepresented community for every Jazz win, and has teamed with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to expand the reach of Encircle, a series of family and youth resource centers aimed at providing a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Though the team has maintained it’s competitive history since the Millers’ first purchased the team in the mid ’80s, how the Jazz are operating behind close doors with Smith at the wheel has been a significant alteration to the status quo.
With so much change in the organzition, where the Jazz head next under the watchful eye of new owner Ryan Smith comes in at number 41 in our countdown of 50 things to watch ahead of opening night.