This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah forward Derrick Favors has spoken glowingly about his tenure with the Jazz and his desire to forge a future with the organization that acquired him in 2011 for star point guard Deron Williams.
However, Favors is less than two months away from his 26th birthday, no longer the 19 year-old kid he was when he came to Utah. He has seen the business side of the NBA, and he knows finances may dictate his future with the Jazz. A a decision may be coming sooner than later, and that decision could result in Favors being moved to another team.
"Everyone knows I love Utah, and I love playing for the Jazz," Favors told The Salt Lake Tribune this week. "But I have to prepare myself this offseason to have a great year, whatever city I'm in."
This is what it has come down to for Favors, and his agent, Wallace Prather: The Jazz will do everything they can to ink star small forward Gordon Hayward to a max contract when Hayward becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Jazz then may have to dole out significant money to unrestricted free agent point guard George Hill and restricted free agent shooting guard Joe Ingles, as well.
With Dante Exum and Rodney Hood also eligible for possible contract extensions, things could quickly get quite expensive for the Jazz. There may not be enough money to go around. And Favors could be the odd man out.
Favors and Prather have done the math. They know the possibility of a trade exists this summer or at the trade deadline next February. Favors is entering the final year of a team-friendly contract that will pay him $12 million in 2017-2018. Then he, too, will be an unrestricted free agent.
And if he reaches unrestricted free agency with the Jazz, the franchise may lose him with no compensation in return.
"Utah's paid Rudy [Gobert] $100 million," Prather told The Tribune. "And Rudy deserves every cent of that contract. They are going to have to pay Gordon a max contract, and he deserves every cent. It's going to be difficult to commit to a $300 million dollar frontcourt.
"We're not upset at all," the agent added. "This is just the business side of things, and this is just the reality of where we're at."
Favors was eligible for a renegotiation and extension of his contract this past season, but the two sides never came close to a deal. Complicating matters, Favors went through his most difficult season on the floor since he was a rookie because a bone contusion in his knee limited him to 50 games. He averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds, going from a starter to role player off the bench by the end of the season a sharp dropoff from the previous season.
A healthy Favors averaged 16 points and eight rebounds in 2015-16, and that is what Favors thinks he can return to with a good summer. Even if the Jazz find themselves in a precarious financial situation with Favors, they value what he means to the franchise on and off the floor.
There were questions raised after this season about whether Favors and Gobert can co-exist in the same frontcourt. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said last week after taking time to review the season that he didn't see any issues there. Lindsey also said the Jazz are confident Favors can return to form. Even with the struggles of the season, Favors scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Utah's Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.
But more than anything, Lindsey said Favors he has to demonstrate he can stay healthy.
"Derrick would be the first one to agree, his best attribute going forward is availability," Lindsey said. "The good player hasn't disappeared. It's still there. We can win, and we can guard with the two-man lineup [Favors and Gobert playing together]. Derrick has always graded out as one of our best defenders."
The Jazz have a few options with Favors. They can shop him this summer and try to trade him, but the market could be soft because of the injury issues. They can keep him and hope he returns to previous form, which would increase his value by next February.
There's also the possibility of Hayward signing elsewhere.
"That's the one way I can see Derrick staying long-term," Prather said. "If Gordon leaves, Derrick becomes much more important."
In the meantime, Favors is working out in Atlanta. He said more than once he wants to remain in Utah going forward. But Favors knows staying with the Jazz may not be possible beyond next season, so he's mentally preparing himself for a summer of uncertainty.
• Drew interest on the trade market in February. The the Jazz kept him, which paid off when Favors had his best performance of the season in Game 7 of the first round against the Clippers.
• Played in a career-low 50 games this season. Favors averaged less than 10 points a game for the first time in five years.
• He's entering the last year of a contract that will pay him $12 million. If he returns to his 2015-2016 form, he will command significantly more on the free agent market.