After a reign that lasted 3-decades, the Miller family recently sold the majority stake of the Utah Jazz franchise to tech billionaire Ryan Smith. He becomes the third tech billionaire to own an NBA team after Mark Cuban (Mavericks) and Steve Ballmer (Clippers).
So who is Smith? The 42-year-old is a lifelong Jazz fan and a Utah resident. Co-founder of online survey software company Qualtrics, Smith had reportedly expressed an interest in buying the team in the past, but it didn’t materialize into anything meaningful. However, he has finally bagged the majority stake after a $1.6 million purchase.
After dropping out of Brigham Young University 20 years ago, Smith, along with his father, started Qualtrics. They took the company from a basement in Provo to an $8 billion takeover by SAP in 2018.
“I’ve approached Gail and the Millers a couple of times,” Smith said in a recent interview. “There’s no secret about my interest in the NBA, and there’s really no secret about my interest in the Jazz.
“I grew up watching the Jazz. This is the team I cheered for. I dreamed of playing for the Jazz, and that didn’t work out. The Jazz are a gift to this whole community, and that’s how we view it. That’s 100 percent how we view this.”
Also Very grateful for the Miller family and the amazing organization that they have built over the years! It’s a new chapter for the Jazz but they will forever be a big part of this team and none of this would be possible without them.
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) October 28, 2020
What’s next for the Utah Jazz?
This upcoming free agency is going to be huge for the Jazz. After back-to-back first-round exits, they will be looking to improve their playoff performance.
The biggest concern for them is Mike Conley’s contract. The 33-year-old endured a terrible first season following the big trade to bring him in. But he showed a lot of improvement in the bubble, so the Jazz would like to keep him around.
He has an early termination option, which, on triggering, will make him an unrestricted free agent. The Jazz will probably give him a 3 or 4-year deal as an incentive to terminate that massive $34 million contract.
With that money, they can pay Jordan Clarkson, who was phenomenal off the bench for them. They have his bird rights as well, so they can match any offer.
The Jazz should also be targeting a big man to help off the bench. Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap, both former Jazz players, could help them a lot.
Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have been doing all they can, and now if Smith and Co. can offer them the help they need, the Jazz can have better playoff success.
Once the NBA Board of Governors approves of the transaction, Smith will be the proud owner of one of the most successful Western Conference teams in recent years.
Although they haven’t got any titles to show their for efforts, they have been consistently among the better teams in the West. Smith will be hoping that under his reign, the Jazz can finally taste some highly elusive silverware.
ALSO READ- Rudy Gobert Opens up About Utah Jazz Getting New Ownership