The Utah Jazz decided to lock up power forward Derrick Favors to a reported 4 year, $49 million contract extension this week. Favors, 22, was part of a productive duo of young big men that were lodged behind veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap the past two seasons. With both players signing elsewhere this offseason, Favors will see a significant uptick in both minutes and responsibility.
Favors was the main piece in the Deron Williams to New Jersey (now Brooklyn) deal in February of 2011, which also sent Devin Harris (no longer with the team) and two first round picks to Utah. While he hasn't quite developed as quickly as hoped offensively, Favors has shown a propensity for blocking shots (1.7 per game, 12th in NBA last season), and is a strong finisher near the rim. He's also a solid rebounder, and is an above-average athlete for the position.
The Jazz have a lot of young talent, but would have been woefully thin up front if the team elected to have him play out the fourth year of his contract and enter restricted free agency. While a little over $12 million a year might be over-paying for the 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds he provided last season, the Jazz would have risked losing one of their best young players on a team that's clearly in transition.
Favors' representation could have elected to take the riskier approach and abandon the opportunity for an extension by playing out the season in hopes of getting a richer deal elsewhere. While there could have been a team or two out there willing to spend more than the $12+ million annually he's now set to receive, the risk of injury would hardly be worth it.
Grade for Utah: B. Despite over-paying slightly, the team was able to keep a player they likely view as a core piece in their rebuilding efforts. There is risk with that kind of investment in a player that's still relatively unproven, but it was a calculated risk in this instance.
Grade for Favors: A. There likely wouldn't have been a team to offer much more than Utah had, and the risk of injury in playing out the final year of his rookie deal ultimately wouldn't have been worth it. His contract is also favorable in comparison to other promising young big men like Serge Ibaka ($12.5 million average annual salary) and Javale McGee ($11 million AAS).