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

Derrick Favors

2015-16 stat line: 62 GP, 32 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 51.5 FG%, 8.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.5 BPG

2016-17 stat line: 50 GP, 23.7 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 48.7 FG%, 6.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Despite the fact that Derrick Favors missed 20 games in the 2015-16 season, when he was on the floor, he looked absolutely phenomenal. His 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game were a sturdy figure, but even those seemed to pale in comparison to what many thought his true potential could be. He logged a number of impressive games that year such as his career-high 35 points against Indiana and a 29-point, 73.3 field goal percentage outing against New Orleans.

Even in 2017-18 where he admittedly played essentially the entire season on one leg, Favors managed a few surprising outputs such as his 20-point performance against Atlanta and a handful of others where he neared the 20-point mark.

However, one look at his overall stat line in that season is pretty telling. Although some could say that a part of the reason Favors’ stats declined (aside from the obvious that he was struggling with injuries all year) was due to the incredible rise of Rudy Gobert, there’s just no denying that he wasn’t the same player last year. If Favors had been able to play with even half of the effectiveness that he did in 2015-16, the Jazz could have reached even greater heights last season.

With this all being the case, it’s likely that Favors will be facing a make or break type of season in which his performance during the upcoming campaign will determine how much he’ll be making for the next several years. If he bounces back and plays well and establishes himself as a dominant running mate to Rudy Gobert, the Jazz may be willing to float him a rather hefty paycheck.

However, there’s certainly a risk to doing so. Even if 2017-18 is a revelation for Favors, given his injury history, it may be hard to give him big money, especially when trying to balance in Hood, Exum and potentially bringing in new talent as well. At one point it appeared that the Jazz would be willing to give D-Favs an extension, but when his struggles kicked in during the 2016-17 season, it became clear that such talks were to be put on hold.

Now it’s looking like the Jazz will simply let next season play out and make Favors earn whatever he’s deserving of at the end of 2017-18. The good thing is that he ought to be extremely motivated to bounce back and prove that he can help lead the team even in Hayward’s absence.

The bad news is that if Favors plays exceptionally well, even if Utah does decide to reward him handsomely, if he can get an equal or better offer elsewhere and opts to leave, his unrestricted free agent status will prevent the Jazz from being able to do anything about it. And it could potentially result in the team losing out on two talented players that at some point during their career in Utah felt somewhat underappreciated.


I have the feeling that the Jazz are going to be patient with Favors and give him ample opportunity to prove himself and regardless of how this year pans out, they’ll be prepared to make a wise decision with him. If he’s worthy of staying and can be had for a reasonable price, the Jazz should have the cap space to retain him.

On the other hand, if his play doesn’t measure up or if Utah simply decides to pursue another path either financially or strategically, I’m sure they’ll have a solid plan in place if they decide to let him walk.

In a worst case scenario, if it turns out that the Jazz hope and seek to retain him, but that he ends up choosing another team, that will be a difficult blow for the team to suffer for a second straight year, and will likely require some major adjustments to figure out how to keep the team afloat in the future. But the Jazz will cross that bridge when and if they get there. For now, Favors has a ton to prove and his destiny largely rests in his own hands.