One day after trading popular veteran Memo Okur, the Utah Jazz resumed preparations for the season, with a re-focused eye on young Derrick Favors.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor sent Okur to New Jersey for a $10.8 million trade exception and second-round draft pick in 2015.
After Friday morning's practice, O'Connor said a major reason for making the trade was Favors' improvement in training camp and signals he can play two positions power forward and center.
Without Okur in the mix, it appears Favors will get heavy minutes in the big-man rotation that also includes Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, rookie Enes Kanter and possibly Jeremy Evans.
Favors averaged 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in only 20.2 minutes per game after the Jazz acquired him in the Deron Williams trade last February.
Like every teammate, Favors lamented the loss of Okur, calling him a "good-sense-of-humor guy. ... But they traded him, so I guess it opens up more room for us young players. Now we have to step up."
With a greater role, however, Favors must deal with increased expectations.
"There's no pressure for me," he said. "I don't think about that pressure stuff. I just go out there and play hard and let my game speak for itself."
Ultimately, of course, the way Utah uses Favors and their other power-type players rests with coach Tyrone Corbin.
"We have some good young guys," he said. "We just have to figure out a lot sooner now how we can have guys on the floor at the same time."
Kanter will probably miss Okur as much as anyone, even if his departure provides more opportunity to play.
The Jazz used the No. 3 pick in last summer's draft on Kanter, who doesn't turn 20 until next May and like Okur comes from Turkey.
"What I hear was just a big surprise to me," Kanter said. "It's so sad. It's so sad because he is like a big brother to me. But it's just a business part of the NBA."
Kanter could settle into a cozy spot in an Okur-less rotation, finding himself behind Jefferson, Favors and Millsap.
He will likely get plenty of minutes, but without Favors-like expectations and in situations where the Jazz are not necessarily dependent on his production.
"That's true," Kanter said. "But I'm still kind of sad because [Okur] was helping me a lot on the court and off the court."
More than the future second-round pick, O'Connor's ability to secure the trade exception from New Jersey was the key to the deal.
"We think we got something back," he said. "... The trade exception, when you look at it, is how we got Al Jefferson and how Dallas got Lamar Odom. That's a nice chip to have in your pocket."
O'Connor described the exception as a "... gift certificate" that can be used on any player in the NBA who makes $10.8 million. The exception expires in one year, but O'Connor vowed, "We'll be aggressive with it. The Miller family has said to us, 'You can use the exception if it's the right decision.' … But we are going to it judiciously, too, and see what happens."
Statistics from players in the Jazz's expected big-man rotation from last season, not including rookie Enes Kanter:
Player Gms Min Pts Reb Blk
Al Jefferson 82 35.9 18.6 9.7 1.9
Paul Millsap 76 34.3 17.3 7.6 0.9
Derrick Favors 78 19.7 6.8 5.3 0.9
Jeremy Evans 49 9.4 3.6 2.0 0.3