Gail and Greg Miller own the Jazz. Kevin O’Connor controls basketball operations, while Randy Rigby presides over Utah’s business interests. Add in names such as coach Tyrone Corbin, head scout David Fredman and Richard Smith, director of basketball ops, and the Jazz’s organizational hierarchy is established.
All that’s missing is the inside man.
The person who’s seen it all for 27 seasons and is the second-longest tenured employee inside the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. The one who’s outlasted Dave Checketts, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams. The former Price Waterhouse accountant who was evaluating coal-mining properties in “middle of nowhere” Steamboat Springs, Colo., when a random 1985 phone interview suddenly turned into the job of a lifetime.
Meet Bob Hyde.
As the Jazz have constantly shopped, evaluated and traded million-dollar pieces the last two seasons, overhauling their roster in the attempt to remain competitive in the ever-changing Western Conference, Hyde’s been at the center of it all.
He doesn’t initiate the first move. He doesn’t call the final shot. He’s rarely ever seen and almost never quoted. But Hyde is O’Connor’s right-hand man. He’s the Jazz’s salary-cap guru, chief financial officer and Moneyball-believer rolled into one. And while Hyde swears his job and name don’t merit mention, he’s quietly become the most interesting — and at times the most important — person on the Millers’ payroll.
“Bob was critical in my process to make my decision,” said Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, referring to an August move that saw him trade San Antonio for Salt Lake City. “He’s obviously held in very high regard by the Miller family and by Randy and Kevin, [who are] all unanimous in giving Bob a lot of credit on where the LHM corporation is and keying all the strong fundamentals behind the Jazz. He’s already been someone that I’ve leaned on as a resource and a mentor.”
During the 1985-86 season, Utah’s combined payroll was $2.2 million. Top dollar went to Adrian Dantley ($800,000), while Darrell Griffith pulled in $240,000. A young bruiser named Karl Malone had been drafted No. 13 overall out of Louisiana Tech. Checketts leaned on Hyde while Malone’s agent pushed for big money.
“We argued for two hours over $5,000. … Times have changed,” said Hyde, Jazz executive vice president/CFO and president of Fanzz.
In February 2011, Hyde helped pull off one of the biggest moves in franchise history. He was nervous and apprehensive before Utah unexpectedly shipped Williams to New Jersey. But Hyde was also excited. Numbers had been crunched, background checks had been run and Hyde had consulted a salary cap expert’s version of the Bible: the NBA’s player contract management system. Once the Millers and Rigby greenlighted the deal, O’Connor’s gamble was made. Hyde had privately been in the know since jumpball.
“That gets your blood pumping,” he said.
At 57, Hyde’s much closer to the end of his career than the beginning. While O’Connor gradually transfers front-office executive power to Lindsey, Hyde plans to instruct Jazz vice president of finance Nathan Kenyon, among others, on the inner workings of a collective bargaining agreement that only becomes more complex each time a new deal is signed.
But Hyde isn’t closing shop anytime soon. His cap expertise will be essential during a season that could see Utah carry eight expiring contracts, while four multimillion dollar contract extensions and a possible 2013 free-agent spending spree loom.
Hyde’s handmade player-evaluation system continues to expand, evolving from Larry Miller’s famed “batting average” to more than a dozen formulas that form the Jazz’s “book.” He oversees 93 sports apparel stores that stretch from the West Coast to New Hampshire. And even though O’Connor has relinquished day-to-day duties, the former GM’s penchant for getting “great ideas at odd times” won’t wane until he officially steps away.
“The process in the past has been that Kevin does all the work,” Hyde said. “He knows the cap very well. He’s, ‘Aw, shucks’ or whatever. But he’s very bright on salary-cap stuff and knows what he’s doing. But he’ll have a lot of things going at once sometimes. So he’ll call and say, ‘Analyze this deal.’ ”
And the Jazz’s inside man immediately goes to work.
Bob Hyde file
Position • Jazz executive vice president/chief financial officer and president of Fanzz
Years with organization • 27
Did you know? • Hyde turned former owner Larry Miller’s “batting average” player-evaluation system into a “book” that relies on more than 12 formulas to rate NBA athletes.
Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey on Hyde • “The Jazz have been doing a lot of cool and progressive things for a long time. They don’t need to talk about it to understand its merits or knowledge about what they’re doing. They just go about their business quietly and systematically. Bob’s a big part of a lot of analytical and progressive movements that the Jazz have had in place.”