Utah Jazz: Three impending free agents, three big decisions

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images) /
1 of 4

With Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood and Dante Exum all set to hit free agency at the end of the season, the Utah Jazz are in for some big decisions.

DALLAS, TX – JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX – JANUARY 20: Derrick Favors (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz’s phenomenal 2016-17 NBA season was marred only by the end result. Sure, perhaps partially I’m referring to the sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, but in a lot of ways that was quite expected. More than that, I’m talking about the fact that Utah’s biggest offseason objective, retaining unrestricted free agent Gordon Hayward, was left uncompleted.

Regardless of what fans thought of him before he left or what they think of him now, the undeniable fact is that his decision to leave the Jazz significantly hindered a team that was on the rise, a team that was just appearing poised to break through and become a lasting force to be reckoned with.

Fortunately, while the 2017-18 season may not produce as many wins or as much postseason success as the year prior, the Jazz’s return to power may not be all that long in the making given that they still boast an All-NBA center and defensive juggernaut in Rudy Gobert as well as an excellent combo of young, promising players and savvy veterans who know how to get the job done.

However, there is a bit of underlying uneasiness facing this season given that the Jazz currently have three key players on their roster – Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood and Dante Exum – who are set to hit either unrestricted (Favors) or restricted (Hood, Exum) free agency this upcoming offseason.

Raul Neto and Joe Johnson are Utah’s other free agents and newly signed Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh’s contracts reportedly have a team option in year two, but those three aforementioned impending free agents will have the biggest impact on the Jazz.

At one point or another, each of them has been a noteworthy contributor for the Jazz, but likewise, each has also had his fair share of struggles, be it with injuries or otherwise. Favors was once arguably Utah’s best player, but he’s also missed 52 games over the course of the past two seasons and was never fully healthy or truly effective last year.

Rodney Hood has at times been an absolute sharpshooter that has displayed the potential to one day become a breakout star. However, he’s also struggled with an onslaught of injuries and woeful streakiness.

Last of all, Dante Exum captured the starting point guard spot as a rookie and flourished in the role, especially defensively, to the point that many thought he would one day be able to solidify himself as Utah’s long-term answer at the position. However, an ACL tear in the subsequent offseason and an inability to return to form or develop any sort of consistency in 2016-17 have made Exum a difficult puzzle to figure out.

With those descriptions alone, it’s easy to see why Jazz brass has such tough decisions ahead of them as they try to figure out the best way to handle the futures of each of these guys. Perhaps their respective performances in 2017-18 will shed some light on what kind of players they’re truly going to be, however, given Favors’ unrestricted status as well as the hefty sum that Hood and Exum could potentially demand after a breakout year, it may be too late by that point.

With that being said, the following is a look at each of these three key Utah Jazz free agents featuring the strengths and weaknesses they’ve exhibited so far as well as how their free agency fate may very well end up being decided.