Favors: 'This was the place that I wanted to be'
Derrick Favors wasn’t looking for a flashy pitch in free agency.
When the season ended, the veteran forward had only one request of Joe Ingles: Don’t charter a plane and fly in for my meeting. Just shoot me a text or FaceTime me.
On the afternoon of July 1, Ingles delivered.
“He texted me right before the meeting,” Favors confirmed this month, a smile on his face after signing a contract to return to the Utah Jazz. “He did what I told him to do.”
Favors never doubted his teammate would follow through on the request. The chemistry and camaraderie the veteran forward felt with his teammates last season was special. His connection to Utah, where he has spent the past seven years, also ran deep.
So as the 26-year-old entered unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career, Favors was looking for answers to other questions. After three text messages from Ingles and a three-hour meeting with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder, Favors had them.
WHY FAVORS DECIDED TO RE-SIGN WITH THE JAZZ:
Favors met with team officials on July 1 in Atlanta.
“It was fun, actually,” Favors said. “They came, they had a nice presentation, a video of our team. Q kind of quizzed me on the plays to see if I remembered them. We talked a lot.”
During that meeting, forward and front office had a “real conversation” about his role with the team.
“We put a lot of things on the table,” Favors said.
Last season, Favors saw a change in his role on offense, and that resulted in fewer points, touches and crunch-time minutes than he expected.
“There’s probably nobody that sacrificed his own personal game and stats more than Fav,” Lindsey said.
A key part of Favors’ July 1 discussion centered on how to get more involved in the offense next season—and he left the meeting satisfied with what he’d heard.
“Just finding ways to not necessarily stand in the corner for a whole offensive possession,” Favors said. “In the beginning of last season, the big talk with everybody was that I wasn’t involved in the offense. I was basically standing in the corner a lot. They wanted to find a way for me to be more effective, whether it’s cutting to the basket, playing out of pick-and-roll or dribble-handoffs. There are going to be possessions where I do stay in the corner, but it won’t be every possession.”
WHY THE JAZZ DECIDED TO RE-SIGN FAVORS:
Remember the first-round win over the Clippers two years ago? How about last year’s first-round win over the Oklahoma City Thunder?
“I can simply say if there’s no Derrick Favors these last two seasons, there’s no second round of the playoffs,” Lindsey said. “I can comfortably say that.”
The 6-foot-10 Favors was key in helping the Jazz survive an injury to starting center Rudy Gobert in the 2017 playoffs, and again during the 2017-18 season. But the Jazz’s advanced statistics show that Favors and Gobert have also been a successful tandem when they share the court:
• The duo was first in the league allowing just 51.9 percent of field goal attempts in the paint
• The team’s net rating (7.2) with Favors and Gobert on the court was the second best in the NBA.
• Utah’s 24.4 offensive rebounding percentage with both big men on the court was the fourth best in the NBA.
Lindsey also pointed to Favors’ dedication to transforming his body after suffering knee and back injuries. The forward averaged just 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season, but he looked rejuvenated after an injury-plagued campaign the season prior. Favors only dunked the ball 63 times two seasons ago. Last year, that number jumped to 165.