The Utah Jazz locked up a cornerstone for the foreseeable future Friday by signing young big man Derrick Favors to a four-year, $49 million contract extension. First reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the deal also includes incentives which could push its value past $50 million.
For the franchise, retaining Favors through the next few years is a major move. After allowing veterans Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to depart through free agency during the offseason, the Jazz badly need Favors to come through as a core contributor starting this season.
Luckily for Utah, many evaluators around the league believe Favors is on the cusp of stardom. Should he actually reach that potential and become a two-way force, his average annual salary of just over $12 million becomes a relative bargain.
While it's a high price tag for an unproven player, the folks at SLC Dunk seem pretty happy with the signing. SB Nation's Tom Ziller agrees, calling it "a good first step toward building the next great Jazz team." With Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and rookie Trey Burke to build around, the Jazz could have a pretty good team in time.
Gordon Hayward talking extension, too
Favors doesn't appear to be the only Jazz player seeking a big extension, as fourth-year wing Gordon Hayward and the team continue talks on a deal. On Saturday, Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey declined to comment other than saying negotiations with Hayward are still ongoing.
Since being selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Hayward has emerged as a quality contributor for the Jazz. He broke into a major role during the 2011-12 season, his second in the league, and appears positioned to take another solid leap this year.
While terms of the deal aren't being discussed openly at this point, Hayward and the Jazz are presumably discussing a deal with the same four-year term given to Favors. It's hard to imagine him commanding as much money as the big man, though his agents might use Nicolas Batum's big deal in Portland as one comparable.
Garnett, Pierce sitting out preseason game against Boston
Those hoping for an early glimpse of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returning to the TD Garden wearing Nets digs will be sorely disappointed to learn the duo will sit out Wednesday's preseason contest. With the Celtics hosting Brooklyn next week, this would've been the first return visit for the two players who helped bring a title to the franchise.
However, Nets head coach Jason Kidd said Friday that neither player would play Wednesday in Boston, as Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York reports. Holding out aging veterans in a meaningless game generally doesn't warrant attention, but the return of Pierce and KG to Boston would have been worth watching.
The first time Brooklyn visits Boston during the regular season is Jan. 26.
The Milwaukee Bucks exercised their options on forward John Henson and guard Brandon Knight for the 2014-15 season, general manager John Hammond announced Saturday. Both relatively unsurprising moves, the two young players should be key contributors to a new-look team over the next two seasons.
A pair of former first-round picks, Henson and Knight are still on their rookie contracts entering this season. The Bucks had to decide this month whether to exercise options for the following season, but there's little reason to give up on either player without much else in the pipeline.
Henson, the more intriguing of the duo, could emerge as the team's starting power forward this season. After a surprisingly strong rookie campaign -- he averaged 16.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes -- the lanky big man should see an expanded role.
Knight may not be a traditional point guard, but he's the best Milwaukee could do after deciding to move on from Brandon Jennings. As long as he's still affordable, the Bucks will gamble and see if he can make strides that never came in Detroit.
Ben Gordon out for rest of preseason
Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Ben Gordon will miss the team's final two preseason contests after undergoing a minor procedure to relieve soreness in his knee, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Head coach Steve Clifford announced the development prior to Saturday's matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.
After averaging 10.4 points during the team's first five preseason games, Gordon flew to Phoenix this week for the procedure. Clifford said the issue will take at least a week to recover from, so the 10-year veteran will be forced to sit out the rest of the preseason.
Currently earning $13.2 million, Gordon is in the final year of his contract. Last season, he averaged 11.2 points and 1.9 assists in 75 games.