With reporters gathered around him at practice this week, Utah Jazz big man Derrick Favors talked about the sometimes thankless job of defending.
"Don’t bother me at all," he said. "I go out there, I do what I need to do. I get a job done. The coaches love it. The front office loves it."
Jazz at ThunderAt Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)
Tipoff » Sunday, 5 p.m.
Radio » 97.5 FM, 1280 AM, 960 AM
Records (preseason) » Jazz 1-3; Thunder 3-1
About the Jazz » Forward Derrick Favors just signed a contract extension, reportedly worth at least $49 million over four years. … Forward Gordon Hayward leads the team in scoring this preseason, averaging 14.2 points a game. … Center Enes Kanter has averaged 12 points and 5 boards a game in the preseason. … Rookie point guard Trey Burke is out at least three weeks with a fractured finger. … The Jazz have 18 players traveling with the team during this four-game road trip.
About the Thunder » Kevin Durant has averaged better than 28 ppg the last two seasons. … Point guard Russell Westbrook is expected to miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing knee surgery. … Suffered their first preseason loss, falling 105-102 to New Orleans on Thursday.
The Jazz on Saturday announced the 22-year-old Favors had signed a multi-year contract extension. The team would not release the terms of the contract. But according to Yahoo! Sports, which first reported the deal Friday, Favors will make $49 million plus incentives over four years.
Favors, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft, was the key asset Utah received in the 2011 trade that sent All-Star point guard Deron Williams to the Nets. Favors started just eight games for Utah last season, but with the departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap over the summer, and now a new contract, Favors is clearly a key piece of Utah’s future and the Jazz have told him so.
"Sometimes players can be mistaken and think that a contract allotment like this gives them freedom," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "As you guys all know, this comes with huge expectations."
Favors averaged 14.6 points and 11 rebounds per 36 minutes last season. In his eight starts, he averaged 10.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.25 blocks in 27.3 minutes.
While Favors’ offensive game must still develop, the Jazz front office believes he can be an elite defender, with Lindsey making comparisons to New York’s Tyson Chandler and Chicago’s Joakim Noah.
"Very rarely will you get a 6-10, 260-pound young player saying, ‘Hey, I’m a defender. I’m a rebounder. Build the defense around me. That’s what I want,’" Lindsey said. "So if he can be our Bill Russell, we’ll be very, very pleased."
The Jazz had until Oct. 31 to sign Favors to an extension or allow him to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Forward Gordon Hayward, Utah’s own first-round pick in 2010, is facing the same deadline and is still in talks with the Jazz.
"It’s part of the business," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Gordon understands it. His situation is what it is. There’s talks ongoing and hopefully things get worked out. But he understands. He’s happy for Derrick. … And we love both guys and we hope everything will work out that we can keep [both] guys here."
Favors, who said he was bothered by trade rumors during his rookie season in New Jersey, has made it clear he enjoys Salt Lake City and called the deal "a dream come true" and a "big relief."
"The main thing I like about Salt Lake City, man, it’s peaceful," he said. "It’s not loud. There’s not a lot of stuff going on. It’s peaceful. You go home and get a peace of mind. That’s the main thing I like. That’s why I bought a house out here, because I hope to make this my home. I hope to retire here."
He added, "I don’t have to find more boxes to move no more."
The Jazz are already high on Favors’ defensive capabilities, but the big man still has a ways to go offensively. The Jazz are encouraged that Favors has increased his scoring average each year — from 6.8 points a game as a rookie, to 8.8 the next year and up to 9.4 last season — and team officials believe he’ll continue to develop as a scoring option.
But that is not the priority right now, Lindsey said.
"We’ll let the offense kind of define itself," Lindsey said. "He’s still 22. Literally, I’m scouting 22-year-olds right now in college and internationally"
Financially, the reported deal places Favors somewhere between Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, two post players drafted the same year. Cousins, the No. 4 overall pick in 2010, signed a four-year max extension earlier this year that will pay him a reported $62 million. Sanders, a center the Bucks took with the 15th pick, signed a four-year $44 million extension.
"I never thought I would sign something this big," Favors said.
The Atlanta native said the news hasn’t quite sunk in with his mother yet.
"I called and told her and she said, ‘OK. That’s good,’ " Favors said with a laugh. "It’s probably going to hit her in a minute, but it hasn’t hit her yet."Next Page >
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