Derrick Favors always thought he’d try to get back to Utah, but didn’t know he’d have the chance
When the Jazz made their offer — three years for just over $27 million — it didn’t take long for Favors to accept.
Derrick Favors saw the writing on the wall in the summer of 2019.
The Utah Jazz were pursuing big names that came with big price tags and he figured his time with the team had come to an end.
“I knew financially someone had to get traded and I knew I was probably one of them,” Favors said on Wednesday via Zoom. “So we sat down and we talked and I just told them to send me to New Orleans.”
The Pelicans were a young, exciting team on the rise with No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and the cap space to take on Favors. So after nearly nine years with the Jazz, the beloved fan favorite was traded to New Orleans, but he wasn’t salty about the way things had ended.
Favors even admitted that at the time the thought crossed his mind that if he could somehow make his way back to Utah, he would do it. He didn’t think that opportunity would present itself just one season later.
“I thought maybe on down the line like two or three years, but once the opportunity came ... I couldn’t turn it down,” Favors said. “It just felt right. As soon as they came with (the) opportunity, I jumped on it.”
On Wednesday the team officially announced that Favors was, once again, a Jazzman.
“It feels like home,” Favors said.
When free agency opened up last Friday and the Jazz called Favors, they didn’t even really talk about basketball. They just talked. Executive vice president Dennis Lindsey, general manager Justin Zanik and coach Quin Snyder didn’t need to explain the system or the Jazz culture to Favors.
Once again, he knew what didn’t have to be said. He knew he was going to be coming back to Utah in a reserve role, with less playing time and for less money. None of that concerned him.
When the Jazz made their offer — three years for just over $27 million — it didn’t take long for Favors to accept. He talked to his agent for five, maybe 10 minutes, took a couple more phone calls from other teams and then told the Jazz he was in. He didn’t even need to talk to his family.
“I didn’t really talk to them before I made a decision,” Favors said with a laugh. “My family, they love Utah.”
Favors returns to a Jazz team that has a lot more offensive power than it did the last time he was here. The starting unit, led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert is boosted by Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley. Favors comes in as the reserve unit’s defensive anchor who will once again feed off of Joe Ingles, while having Jordan Clarkson there to get buckets whenever needed.
Favors enjoyed his time in New Orleans, despite a tumultuous season that included the passing of his mother — the anniversary of which was on Wednesday — and a global pandemic that upended the NBA calendar. Even though his time with the Pelicans was enjoyable, he’s even more excited about what’s possible with the Jazz.
“It’s gonna be exciting,” he said. “It’s gonna be something different for me. But I’m definitely excited for it.”
As soon as Favors agreed to return to Utah, Mitchell and Royce O’Neale hopped on FaceTime with him to welcome him back and he was hit with texts from Conley and Gobert who expressed their own excitement about him returning to the team, a testament Favors said to the camaraderie and culture of the Jazz.
But it was Ingles who texted Favors alluding to their nearly unstoppable tandem game and the thrill of being able to reignite it. In a short text message, Ingles summed up exactly how Jazz fans and Favors feel about the upcoming season with just four words.
“Pocket pass. We’re back.”