The fast-rising Utah Jazz are beginning to conclude that the modern NBA has little room for a Twin Towers lineup in which neither player can stretch the floor all the way out to the three-point line.
Derrick Favors’ perfect role in today’s NBA is to defend the paint - which he does at a very high level - as the primary big man, but he’s never going to get that role in Utah with the Stifle Tower around.
Favors, in the third year of a 4 year $48 million contract, is playing only 23 minutes per game this season. Some of that is injury (he’s only been healthy for 40 of the Jazz’ 57 games) and some is due to matchups. After two years of averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes, while providing stifling defense, Favors is only posting 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season as the Jazz have their best record at the All-Star break in many years.
With Rudy Gobert already extended for $25 million per year starting next season and entrenched as a super-sized perennial defensive player of the year candidate, front court mate Derrick Favors does not have a long-term role offering big minutes.
Now, it appears the Phoenix Suns are kicking tires on Favors, still just 25 years old, to see if they can acquire him on the cheap. Favors is up for a new contract one year from now and it’s likely the Jazz will have to decide to part with him for some return while he still has value to other teams.
I engaged with the folks - especially editor Amar - at our bro SB Nation site, SLCDunk.com, to get the other perspective on why Favors might be available, and what it would cost to get him.
From whence he came:
"In what seems like ages ago, Derrick Favors (the 3rd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft) was the principal prize in unloading Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets. There was also Devin Harris and picks (Enes Kanter and Gorgui Dieng) – but after all those year’s he’s the only guy who remains. Having spent part of his rookie season with the Jazz he was a part of the downfall and the rebuild to where the team is now.”
On why he doesn’t fit next to Gobert:
The 6’10 bigman is a two-way player and still a season or two away from his physical peak as a player. So why would the Jazz want to trade him? Well, in any other era of NBA Basketball they wouldn’t. But in today’s game where you see more and more teams playing four-out (or the main way to beat the Jazz – five-out) it’s impossible to find a place for him and Rudy Gobert on the floor at the same time. And Favors, on an economical contract, would be making too much for a bench player.
Jazz need cap space:
The Jazz need money to spend on free agents to be Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Joe Ingles this off-season. And then money for guys like Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, and Trey Lyles after their rookie contracts are up. Favors is the unfortunate odd-man out.
What Favors brings to the game:
And that sucks, because he is one of the most beloved Jazz men. He lives in Utah all year long. He took a home down discount to stay in Utah past his rookie deal.
He is someone who hustles, plays defense, and plays hard. He is ‘traditional versatile’ in that he can play center and defend the rim or play power forward inside and out to about 20 feet with no trouble. There were some pre-Gobert years where he was the starting center, after all. So he’s young, talented, and still has potential.
He just doesn’t fit Quin Snyder’s offense or the ‘small ball / face-up’ trend that the NBA is heading towards. Finding him a good spot seems like the least we can do. He does spend part of his off-seasons working with Mehmet Okur, and has a great relationship with Earl Watson. Phoenix makes a lot of sense because those two guys would be his coaches. Us small market, crazy time-zone teams need to stick together."
Here are three Favors trades submitted by the SLCDunk.com folks. It’s good to see these so you can see what their own fans are thinking, and not just Suns fans.
This one gets Favors off their books entirely with (effectively) two expiring contracts in Alex Len and P.J. Tucker. The Jazz need cap space and renouncing both Len and Tucker in June would free up the entire $11 million of Favors’ contract.
On the other hand, the Jazz might want some value for a very valuable big man. The other two deals included Eric Bledsoe as the primary bait to get Favors in Phoenix.
And here’s the real doozy. How much do you like Rodney Hood? The Suns might have to throw in a pick to finish this deal, per the SLCDunk.com guys.
Which of these trades would you, from the Suns perspective?