Do the Jazz know what to do with their money?

Note to reader: If any of the following seems overly optimistic, simply reread the passage with an air of sarcasm.

Now that the playoffs are out of the way, the Jazz can finally feel free to fully pursue the American dream: to buy a championship franchise.

The biggest hinderance to the Jazz’s ability to do so has always been Larry Miller’s unwillingness to exceed the salary cap. Sure, some players will never come to Utah based on principle, but for those who will consider the small city atmosphere, this coming offseason could provide a golden opportunity.

Never an organization to overspend, Utah has spent the last two years cleansing its roster of any huge contracts, all in the hopes of being one of the toughest bidders in the free-agent market this summer. This way, Miller can offer huge contracts without fear of going over the salary cap.

Admittedly, we all saw what happened to a Jazz team that is willing to offer high dollars in the free-agent market last summer: We got nothing. The problem last summer, however, was that every offer made by the Jazz was to a restricted free agent, meaning that every contract offered by the Jazz could be matched by those players’ original teams. This happened with Corey Maggete, Elton Brand, Brad Miller and Jason Terry.

This year should be different (note-this is one of those lines that could be read sarcastically). We can only hope that the Jazz have learned that making offers to restricted free agents is unwise and results in nothing. Assuming that the Jazz attempt to sign a few unrestricted free agents, we could be sitting pretty come next fall.

Now stocked with around $30 million in cap space for this coming offseason, few teams will be financially qualified to compete with the Jazz without severely exceeding the salary cap. Fortunately, most successful teams never spend over the salary cap, putting the Jazz in an excellent position (note-definite sarcasm needed here).

More importantly, the Jazz should not have to rely on free agent acquisitions this summer because Utah will likely have three first-round draft picks in the upcoming draft. Even if the Jazz fail to sign a big-time free agent, we can always rely on the team’s great success in previous drafts to know how well we will come out. Remember the great play of Mo Williams, Luther Wright, Curtis Borchardt, Jarron Collins, Quincy Lewis and Scott Padgett? Neither do I.

The last time the Jazz had three first-round picks, we got Andrei Kirilenko, Padgett and Lewis. One out of three is not bad odds, but when your team only has one or two good players, you might need to do better than 33.3 percent. An important difference from the 1999 draft is that this time the Jazz will have an opportunity to draft from the lottery, where the odds are much higher that you won’t end up with a mid-grade high school player like Deshawn Stevenson that you end up trading away four years later after what amounts to no production.

If the Jazz are to return to playoff glory in the post-Stockton to-Malone era, the Jazz will need a lot of luck in the draft, and an entirely new attitude from the ownership-that much is for sure (note-definitely not sarcastic).

With an offseason of hope approaching us, regardless of the fact that the Jazz are not capable of winning right now, it’s still an exciting time for Jazz fans (in case you were wondering, this is another one of those passages that could be read with sarcasm, if you so desire.)

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