Derrick Favors has reached agreement on a four-year, $49 million-plus contract extension with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The deal includes bonus incentives that could push the package well over $50 million, sources said.
At first glance, giving Derrick Favors an extension makes perfect sense. So much sense, in fact, that one is tempted to dismiss it, filing the move away as a typically financially stellar decision by the typically financially stellar Jazz, and moving on to glitzier endeavors.
And indeed, there is plenty of reason for any team to pick five more years (including the upcoming one) of Derrick Favors over a potentially restricted free agency bout. While the CBA clearly benefits the team over the player in such situations, Favors is going into his first season as a full-time starter. As such, he could conceivably demand much more next summer from desperate teams who have cleared out max cap space in a landscape with scarce max players than he can right now from a leverage-holding Jazz team that is intimately familiar with his flaws. Seeing how the only non-rookie contracts on Utah’s books next season are those of Jeremy Evans and John Lucas III, the latter unguaranteed, it’s a move that the Jazz are unlikely to regret, even if Favors doesn’t hit the lofty heights expected of him when he was the main prize in the Deron Williams deal.
Nonetheless, in the context of other extensions handed out to 2010 draftees this summer, Favors’ stands out as slightly odd. John Wall and Paul George were both given designated 5 year deals, solidifying their status as their respective franchise’s main pillars from here on out. DeMarcus Cousins, a controversial beast of a basketball player, received a similarly controversial beast of a contract. All three are better players than Favors, and will probably remain such from here on out.
The final extension is closer to Favors’ ballpark, and that is Larry Sanders’ freshly minted 4 year, $44 million deal from the Bucks. This is where head scratching is permitted. I’m not sure I’d definitively say Sanders is a better player than Favors – though he is a shot-blocking, pick-and-roll shading savant, Favors has shown considerably defensive ability in his three NBA seasons, and his combination of physical attributes and age hint at room for growth. Favors also seems capable of crossing the halfcourt line with his hands still connected to his arms, whereas Sanders is the unfortunate victim of a seldom-mentioned NBA bylaw that forces him to trade his paws for abstractly shaped Lego-built constructions whenever he switches from defense to offense.
But Favors earning more money outright than Sanders? After last season? That strikes me as odd. Sanders vaulted himself from an NBA non-factor to a consensus building block last season, almost cutting his fouls per-minute by half, vastly improving his rebounding and decision making, slightly improving his at-rim percentage and becoming an internet phenomenon. Favors’ game mostly stagnated as he struggled to break into a larger role among frontcourt partners that, to be fair, didn’t really give him a chance to. If you count how many fully competent NBA seasons both players have had, Favors outpaces Sanders, but shouldn’t he lose points for undershooting his trajectory? Did the Bucks just get really good value for Sanders, or are Utah going a bit overboard?
An adjustment for context is necessary here, of course – Sanders shined last season among the charred remains of the unfortunate Samuel Dalembert/Scott Skiles pairing, whereas Favors’ minutes were limited by two borderline all-stars who were ahead of him on the shot chart. How much Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap departing affects Favors (and Enes Kanter, for that matter) remains to be seen. The Jazz, with this deal, seem to be banking on “a lot”.
The biggest boon in Favors’, well, favor is that his per-minute numbers have always been phenomenal, and such marks often sustain when players are given expanded roles. Utah are presumably fully aware of this, given how the namesake of the doctrine that states this effect is the very player Favors is replacing. Favors has averaged right around 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks per 36 minutes for each of the past two seasons, and if those numbers sustain, and his whopping 5.0 fouls per 36 regress, then Favors would have been more than worth it. It’s just that we don’t know if that will happen.
Utah are indeed hoping so, making this extension something of a quasi-gamble. The Jazz have squeaky clean books, five intriguing long-term prospects who are conveniently spread out among five different positions, and will likely get a high pick in the upcoming draft, lauded as one of the best crops in years. In other words, it’s unlikely Utah has made an irredeemable mistake. But as is often the case with rookie extensions, especially of the big man variety, Utah is paying Favors for what they hope he will be rather than what he is. We’ll see how that works out for them.