The Utah Jazz made their commitment to Derrick Favors clear this offseason when they allowed Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to walk in free agency. Now they've cemented that commitment by reaching a long-term financial agreement with their burgeoning star, according to an official announcement.
“We have tremendous respect for and confidence in Derrick and see him as an important part of our future. He brings a toughness and defensive mindset that make him a key piece to what we are trying to build here,” said Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey. “Derrick is also a high-character individual and he has shown a dedication to continue to improve all aspects of his game.”
League sources told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that the Jazz and Favors have reached an agreement on a four-year, $49 million contract extension. Should Favors reach playing time and performance incentives, the deal could go "well over" the $50 million mark.
The deal has not yet been signed. No announcement has been made by the team or Favors' camp at this time.
Utah had until the NBA-imposed Oct. 31 deadline to sign Favors to an extension or risk allowing him to walk into restricted free agency next summer. Though it was expected the Jazz would make a substantial offer to the 22-year-old forward, risking an annual salary of more than $12 million is a big leap for a player with such limited experience.
The third pick in the 2010 NBA draft, Favors was the cornerstone of the Jazz's trade with the then-New Jersey Nets for Deron Williams. But Favors instantly found himself sitting on the bench behind Millsap, an established veteran who worked well in the mid-range with Jefferson clogging up the left block.
As such, the former Georgia Tech standout has started only 21 games in his two-plus seasons in Utah. He has career averages of 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field.
Where Utah is banking its future is on what it thinks Favors can do with an expanded role going forward. A springy athlete with solid on-ball habits, Favors' presence on the floor has often coincided with an uptick in defensive efficiency for the Jazz. They allowed nearly four points less per 100 possessions with Favors on the floor in 2012-13, holding opponents to a rate that would have ranked inside the top 10 in basketball.
The Jazz feel that Favors and center Enes Kanter could create one of the game's most promising frontcourts. When the two were on the floor together last season, Utah's opponents scored at a rate worse than the Memphis Grizzlies' league-best mark (97.2 points per 100 possessions).
Favors will need to improve on his still-developing offensive game to earn his eight-figure salary, but Utah is obviously confident that he will do so. With Favors, Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke in the fold, the Jazz hope they are building a foundational young core.
Favors' contract is the first step in ensuring that core will stay together for a long time.
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