SALT LAKE CITY – Though the Utah Jazz may struggle this season, Derrick Favors sees playoffs and championship contention in the future.
"I expect to be a leader on the court. I want to lead this team back to the playoffs and, hopefully, one day, to a championship," Favors said at a news conference Monday announcing his four-year contract extension.
Favors said he bought a house in Utah earlier this summer and hopes to stay for a long time. He added that his mother factored into the decision. "She said she loves Utah and she really hoped I'd stay here," he said.
But even more than pleasing mom, Favors believes Utah's future is bright.
As Favors began negotiations with the Jazz on the new deal, the first question asked was not about money but whether Utah could keep its young core together so they could grow into contenders.
The third overall pick in 2010, Favors was traded to Utah in the deal that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey in 2011. Favors is only 22 years old but his work ethic and personal standards have made a deep impression on the Utah front office.
"Derrick stands for the right things and he was raised the right way," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "It's not like we're firing a shot in the dark and hopeful in a player we're signing. This is a guy we've had for over two seasons and we know who he is."
Favors averaged just 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds last season as Utah coach Ty Corbin used him almost exclusively as a reserve, but this deal was predicated on potential rather than numbers. After losing Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to free-agent deals in the offseason, Favors will be the focal point of the Jazz frontcourt and he'll finally have the minutes he'll need to hit some of the unspecified contract incentives. The team does release contract details.
"Each of the young guys wanted more time but they understood what Ty was doing. They had to earn it and we didn't want to skip steps in the process," Lindsey said.
Corbin said it's now Favors' time and it begins on the defensive end, where his 6-foot-10 frame and uncommon athletic ability stand out.
"He has a lot of work to do. His defense is ahead of his offense, but we look forward to him being a key player for us. He has shown he is willing to put in the work and guys will follow him," Corbin said.
The Jazz hope Gordon Hayward follows Favors in signing an extension of his own. Negotiations continue in hopes of reaching a deal before the Oct. 31 deadline. Without an agreement, Hayward will become a restricted free agent next July 1.
"Me and Gordon, we've been together going on three years now and we went to USA Basketball camp together so we have a good chemistry going. It's important to keep the core together for the future," Favors said.
Now with Favors as a franchise cornerstone, Corbin hopes the quiet big man will become more vocal.
"When we first got Derrick almost three years ago, he was so young and he didn't know what to expect. And now he's grown as a person and a player and he's embraced this community. We're ready for him to talk more on the court and be a leader," Corbin said.