With the NBA’s free agency period set to start next week, a major topic of conversation over the past few days has been how the Utah Jazz’s roster will be very expensive next season.
Well, the Jazz have made a trade to alleviate that at least some, a deal that many have figured would happen if the team was going to look to cut costs.
At almost 2 a.m. on Friday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Utah was “in serious talks” to trade Derrick Favors to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a few hours later, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the rest of the parameters of the deal.
All told, the Jazz sent Favors and a future first-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for a future second-round pick and cash.
That deal may seem unbalanced, but it’s the common price teams have to pay to move off a contract. Essentially the Jazz are giving the Thunder a future first rounder for their trouble of taking Favors’ salary, which is about $10 million in each of the next two seasons.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the deal will put Utah $13 million under the luxury tax as it looks to bring back Mike Conley next week. As Marks noted, the Jazz will surely still be a tax team if they bring Conley back, but the penalty will be smaller after moving Favors.
For the Thunder, it will add to an absolutely massive trove of future first-round picks it owns as it goes through a rebuilding process.
A core piece of the Utah franchise for a decade, Favors returned to Utah last offseason to be the team’s backup center after spending a year with the New Orleans Pelicans. There was recognition that the Jazz paid far more than the general going rate for a backup center, but the thought was that Favors would be good against big teams like the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs.
Favors’ production dropped off big time, however, and the Jazz’s Achilles’ heel during their second-round playoff exit against the LA Clippers (Favors played the best he had all season in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies) was that they had no options to go small at center to match the Clippers.
Following the trade, the lone traditional center on the roster behind All-Star Rudy Gobert is second-year man Udoka Azubuike, the 2020 first-round pick who played in just 15 games his rookie season.