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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) talk during a free-throw as the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks play a Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Jazz won 115-111. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
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Derrick Favors: Utah ‘Feels Like Home’

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) talk during a free-throw as the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks play a Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Jazz won 115-111. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Derrick Favors wasted little time deciding to come back to Utah. Shortly after free agency opened last Friday, Favors agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with Utah Jazz, returning to the state where he’s played the majority of his NBA career. Why did the big man return to Utah after just one season away? Favors said coming back to the state where he spent most of the last decade “feels like home.”

Favors was traded to the Jazz by the New Jersey Nets midway through his rookie season. From 2011-2019, he developed into one of the NBA’s best defensive centers but found himself in a salary pinch with the Jazz last summer.

The Jazz traded Favors to New Orleans where he spent one season before promptly returning to the Jazz.

“Once free agency opened I had a couple of phone calls with other teams, then the Jazz called and we kind of began to just talk,” Favors said. “It wasn’t about basketball or anything we just got to talk. And they made an offer.”

Favors said he spoke to his agent for 5-10 minutes while exploring options with other teams. In the end, Favors made his preference clear to his representatives.

“I feel better going back to Utah,” Favors said he told his agent. “I know the system there, I love the organization, the city. I’m just familiar with it. It feels like home. So that’s why I made a decision.”

Favors Knows His Role

Though Favors spent eight and a half seasons with the Jazz, his role is expected to change after a year away. Bojan Bogdanovic joined the Jazz last summer and provided a much-needed offensive boost to the starting lineup.

Despite the change, Favors said he’s comfortable with his new job.

“I already knew my role once I signed back,” Favors admitted. “I already knew what it was. I’m probably going to come off the bench, I won’t play 30 minutes, probably play maybe 24-25 minutes.”

Starting center Rudy Gobert played a team-high 34 minutes per game last season. Bogdanovic was third at 33 minutes per game. If Favors were to absorb all 14 of the back backup minutes at center, he’d still need to find an additional 10 minutes to climb to his expected average.

The Jazz can do that by shortening Gobert’s minutes, which gives the Jazz a chance to lessen the burden on their All-NBA center by season’s end, and by getting a more versatile perimeter defender on the floor against smaller lineups.

Coach Quin Snyder could also opt to feature a bigger lineup with both Favors and Gobert on the floor for short stretches throughout the game.

It was that trust in Snyder that made Favors most excited about returning to the Jazz.

“I want to play for Coach Quin,” Favors said. “He’s my favorite coach in the world right now.”

A Warm Welcome Home For Favors

After signing with the Jazz, Favors received a warm welcome home from his former teammates. Even some of the new Jazz players who he’d never played with before reached out to welcome Favors back to Utah.

“Joe Ingles texted me,” Favors said. “Rudy texted me. Donovan [Mitchell] FaceTimed me, he and Royce [O’Neale], they FaceTimed me. Mike [Conley] text me, and just some other guys around the area that I know.”

The Jazz will welcome back the pick and roll chemistry that grew during Ingles and Favors in the team’s second unit. Ingles wasted no time letting Favors know the potent play was rearing for a return.

“First thing he said was ‘Pocket pass – We back.'” Favors said of Ingles. “That’s the first thing he said.”

But Ingles isn’t the only playmaker Favors is excited to play alongside. The former Georgia Tech star said he was already thinking about teaming with the three new Jazzmen who joined the since Favors departure.

“Mike Conley text me right after I decided to come back,” Favors said. “I told him how excited I was to team up with him. You know, Jordan Clarkson and Bogdanovic are two guys that can put the ball in the basket also along with Donovan Mitchell. So, it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going be something different for me, but I’m excited.”

Jazz players will be returning to the team’s practice facility next week for individual workouts before training camp begins during the first week of December. The regular season is scheduled to begin on December 22.

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