The Utah Jazz played the final home game of the 2023-24 season on Thursday night and it was Fan Appreciation Night at the Delta Center. The irony is that fans are having a really hard time appreciating the Jazz and they don’t necessarily feel appreciated themselves.

It’s not like attending a sporting event, hanging out with friends and eating junk food is a bad time — the arena was mostly full and people were mostly happy. But, when asked about the product on the court, the direction of the franchise and the future of the team, Jazz fans said they were largely disappointed and are going into the offseason feeling apathetic at best.

On Thursday, Lauri Markkanen (shoulder impingement), Jordan Clarkson (SI inflammation), John Collins (back spasms), Kris Dunn (left foot inflammation), Collin Sexton (illness) and Walker Kessler (nasal fracture) were all sidelined, leaving a starting lineup that featured three rookies and a rotation of players who either haven’t played much this season or are on two-way deals.

“It’s a little annoying especially because most of these guys aren’t actually hurt,” fan Xavier Lagiusa said. “You’ve got videos on the jumbotron of guys like John Collins saying thank you to the fans and we don’t even know if he’s gonna be around next year. We don’t know if anyone is. And thank you for what? We didn’t ask for this, so it feels a little empty.”

Lagiusa, who was wearing a Markkanen jersey and described himself as a die-hard fan, said he isn’t going to stop supporting the team and hoping for the best. But he is starting to wonder if there really is a plan in place.

The 2023-24 season marks the second-straight year in which the team seemed competitive and fun early on before mid-season trades dropped the overall talent level of the team and all but guaranteed they were heading for a high draft pick rather than the postseason. It also marks the second season that the team’s best players have been sidelined during the final stretch of games.

“It’s a little rough, I mean, who is (Darius) Bazley?” season ticket holder Alex Burrows asked. “Seems like if you were gonna commit to tanking you should have done it earlier when there was a guy named Victor Wembanyama available. Now I’m not really sure what we’re tanking for.”

Fans have found it hard to get really invested in any of the players on the team because they expect the players will be traded midseason, traded in the offseason or ask for a trade after years of being in a losing situation.

There are some fans who are excited about some of the players — Markkanen and rookies Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks and Brice Sensabaugh — but as I walked through the arena asking fans about the future of the team, it was hard to find anyone who was willing to bet on any of those players being around for the next successful Jazz season. And it was hard to find fans who felt like a successful season was on the horizon.

“You come to the game and look out on the court and it’s like, did they just pick up the East High team? It’s pretty meh,” fan Brady Fishburn said. “At the very beginning of the season it was fun and there seemed to be something there, but that quickly diminished into this. And we don’t know who is going to be back next year. I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to be traded away from this.”

Thursday night’s 124-121 win over the Houston Rockets was fun and the crowd was into it. But the Jazz are now just 4-24 since the trade deadline and, as most of the fans said, the result doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The Jazz have two more games left to play, both on the road, and they will not be playing any postseason games.

The fans want to be able to appreciate the product on the court and they want to feel appreciated. They want to feel like they can emotionally invest in the players and envision a successful future.

But so long as the Jazz insist on closing out the year with losses and G League tryouts, the fans are left feeling under-appreciated and uncertain about what comes next.