The Utah Jazz are facing a Derrick Favors dilemma

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 04: Ian Clark (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 04: Ian Clark (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Given the ups and downs that Derrick Favors has experienced in his career, the Utah Jazz face somewhat of a dilemma regarding his future.

It seems like just yesterday in the wake of free agency approaching that I was writing about how the Utah Jazz had a George Hill dilemma. There were a number of difficult questions and tricky scenarios facing the Jazz regarding their starting (when healthy) point guard and ultimately the front office would have likely needed a crystal ball to know which course of action would actually end up turning out the best.

However, as it turned out, George Hill ended up opting to join the ranks of the Sacramento Kings this summer, which was an interesting way for Utah’s former dilemma to be to come to an end.

Now with free agency winding down, barring a major surprise in which the Utah Jazz get involved in the Kyrie Irving or Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, it’s looking as if the roster is essentially set. True, there are 16 guaranteed players on Utah’s roster thanks to the signing of Royce O’Neale, so one player will have to either be waived or some sort of transaction will have to be made, but more than likely we know what the team is going to look like heading into training camp for 2017-18.

Even with that being the case, it doesn’t change the fact that the Utah Jazz have some tough decisions facing them, not necessarily at this exact moment, but very much so in the near future given that they’ll have several key players hit free agency at the end of this year. Rodney Hood and Dante Exum will both be restricted free agents and Joe Johnson will be unrestricted, but the guy who the Jazz will really be facing a dilemma with will be Derrick Favors.

Like Johnson, Favors will also be an unrestricted free agent, so in reality, hopefully Utah will be able to make a comfortable decision on him well before free agency hits, because if Favors wants to go elsewhere, doing so will be entirely up to him and completely out of the Jazz’s power.

Under normal circumstances, a team would want to keep its top players, would do everything to do so and would plan for the future under the assumption (unless they already know otherwise) that said player is going to stay.

However, unfortunately in the case of Derrick Favors, it’s far from a normal circumstance.

There have been times when Favors has appeared to be a borderline All-Star. In both the 2014-15 season and the 2015-16 season, he averaged over 16 points and 8 rebounds per game – both solid figures. However, particularly last season but also throughout his career, Favors has struggled with injuries. His inability to stay healthy has been his biggest downfall and last year’s injury-riddled campaign has many wondering if he truly can return to form.

Therefore, the Utah Jazz face many potential situations with the former third overall draft pick, which I will discuss here. While there could be multiple variations of these, I’ll focus on the main five, of which, unfortunately, only two are all that good.

The first is that the Jazz hold onto Favors, he regains his former skill and becomes a 16-8 guy once again or, better yet, in the absence of Gordon Hayward turns into a 20-10 guy. From there, after having a spectacular season, he shows his appreciation and commitment to the Jazz and decides to re-sign in Utah for the next few years.

The next is similar to that, but instead, after showing that 2016-17 was indeed a massive fluke, he opts to take advantage of his unrestricted free agency, leaving the Jazz spurned for the second straight year. Unfortunately, although Favors has outwardly appeared pleased with his time in Utah, after being mentioned relentlessly in trade rumors and perhaps feeling under-appreciated with the Jazz, I could sadly see this one coming to fruition.

The other situation that could occur is that the Jazz feel concerned about Favors’ production from last year or even early in this upcoming year and decide to trade him. After doing so, his issues sadly continue for most of his career, whereas the haul that Utah receives in return for him as well as the added financial flexibility ends up benefiting the Jazz in the long term more than keeping Favors would have.

Or instead, Utah trades Favors away but he regains his former level of play and the Jazz regret doing so, wishing instead that they would have held onto their formidable big man and attempted to re-sign him.

Last of all, in kind of a hybrid of aforementioned options, there’s also the chance that Favors has a mediocre year and that at the end of the season, it is the Jazz themselves who opt to simply let him walk and go on to pursue another team.

After hearing all those options, now do you see why that crystal ball I mentioned earlier could come in handy?

Obviously the Jazz have a lot of different scenarios to weigh and measure regarding Favors and while none is certain, I imagine they won’t move forward until they feel quite confident (at least to the extent that they can) in their decision. Regardless of how Favors’ season goes, though, I truly hope beyond anything that at the very least he is open and honest with the Jazz front office. If he intends to stay beyond this year (which I truly hope does), then he should let it be known.

But on the flip side, if Favors feels he has worn out his welcome in Utah and wishes to look elsewhere, he should privately and respectively inform the Jazz front office as well. That way, they can either look to package him in a trade (perhaps even helping him land somewhere he’d like to be) or simply plan their future, including the 2018 free agency, without him figuring into their plans.

The worst case scenarios if Utah hopes to keep him beyond this year would be losing him for nothing a la Gordon Hayward, or losing their leverage and being forced to trade him away for next to nothing if other teams learn of his discontent such as in the situation with Paul George and perhaps with Kyrie Irving.

Although Favors has been thrown about in several trade rumors this summer and long before, in my honest opinion, I hope that the Jazz hold onto him and don’t risk trading him away and regretting it later. It wasn’t long ago that Favors was considered by many to be the best player on this Jazz team, even above Hayward, and while there’s a chance he’s become too injury prone, there’s also just as good a chance that 2016-17 was little more than a fluke.

After all, as I mentioned previously, Favors was a beast the two years prior. And as long as he can get healthy, I truly believe that player still exists. Not to mention, although I’m sure some teams would be interested in Favors despite his injury history, there’s no doubting that his trade value isn’t all that great right now because of the risks involved.

With that being the case, there’s almost no way that the Jazz could trade him for any sort of difference maker that’s going to push the Jazz into championship contention right now. Therefore, I feel like the Jazz will actually run a higher risk by trading him away than by keeping him. If they trade him and he reignites his career, they’ll probably regret it. However, if he stays and has another poor year, they can make the tough decision to let him walk at year’s end, and his salary will simply be off the books, opening the door for other opportunities.

So even though the Jazz face a difficult dilemma with Derrick Favors and may even be tempted to part ways with him prematurely, barring an inside knowledge that he plans to leave in free agency anyway, I would be disappointed to see the Jazz trade him away. And quite frankly at this point, I predict that they’re going to hold onto him and give him a chance to prove himself.

He’s given a lot to this Jazz franchise and I honestly believe he deserves that opportunity and that he is going to take advantage of it. Favors is a stand-up guy and a superb talent who (as some people tend to forget) is just 26 years old and could very well still be a big part of Utah’s future.

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Therefore, as much as I’m excited to see Favors and his Utah Jazz teammates take the floor next season, I’m sure it pales in comparison to how Derrick himself feels. Given that he’s in a contract year he’ll be extra motivated and considering how disappointing last season was along with all the criticisms that surrounded him, he ought to come out with a major chip on his shoulder and a desire to silence his critics.

And that ought to not only make him extremely fun to watch, but also will hopefully make Utah’s perplexing dilemma all the more easy to resolve.