Sometimes I just don’t understand our reactions as fans. We’re so wishy washy. We want to have our cake and eat it to. I guess that’s the beauty of being a fan. We can have big ups and downs, over react, be indifferent. It doesn’t really matter. NBA basketball for us is entertainment that we pay to see and we have the right to boo and to cheer. Sometimes though, we need to take a step back, take a look at the big picture and realize we’ve got a good thing going here. This season is going to be rough in the win column but that’s OK. It’s going to pay off big time with player development and a franchise changing draft pick in the upcoming draft. We need to chill out, especially about preseason losses. On his Tip Off yesterday, David Locke gave some great advise saying, more or less, that an 88-82 loss to the Thunder with that kind of defensive effort is actually a win for this team this year. As fans we will have a lot of fun this season if we focus on the things the players do well and enjoy watching them improve on the things they don’t do so well. Trust me, this will save you a lot of stress and headaches. This is the first of many steps for this franchise to get back to where it wants to be.
Another step is having players that you can build around and it’s no secret that management has targeted Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. I was thrilled at the news that Favors had signed a 4 year nearly $48 extension with the Jazz. It sounded like a fair deal for both sides and I was even happier to learn that it’s a front loaded deal. According to HoopsWorld.com Favors will make $12.83 million his 1st year of the deal and then $11.93 million in 2015-16 and 2017-18 and $11.83 million in 2016-17. This is a deal that gives Favors some security and lets him know the Jazz have faith and trust in him. I think this will motivate to continue to work hard and improve each year. By doing so he’ll be in line for an even bigger deal in 2018-19 when he’ll be only 27 years old and entering his prime. His extension is also a deal that the yearly amounts are “small” enough to allow the team to sign 2 more players at similar or richer deals and still have room to fill the roster out with role players and rookies. Remember the Jazz have TWO 1st round picks in 2014 and 2017. A win-win for both sides and the fans. A great deal for a player who is on his way to becoming an elite defender in this league.
Gordon Hayward is the next piece that needs to fall into place. While Favors is the anchor on defense for this team, Hayward is being asked to play a similar role on offense. This may not be a role that he is 100% comfortable handling for his entire career and I expect the Jazz to take care of that in the draft next year. Hayward could be one of the best #2 options in the league (I personally think Hayward could be our Scottie Pippen) but being the #1 option on this team this year will be a great experience for him. Hayward does so many things well. He loves getting his teammates involved and I would imagine he is a fun player to play with. He is competitive and wants to win above all else. He brings a great workman like attitude to the team and this is an attitude that Jazz fans are used to. He and Favors embody everything we want from the Utah Jazz. The reality is Gordon Hayward is going to put up some big numbers this year. Someone (hello Boston?) is going to give him a max offer sheet in the offseason. To keep him around the Jazz are going to have to pay him at the very least as much as Favors if not more. Why not do it now? Don’t let it be a distraction. Let this young player know you want him here for a long time and give him the same confidence boost.
Signing these two players in no way, shape or form is handcuffing the team. It’s giving the team a direction and purpose. It’s letting the other players know what management expects from its players and who the leaders are. It’s building a foundation. We have Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert on their rookie deals for the next 4 years. Raul Neto will come over next year. Kanter and Burks have one more year on their rookie deals. The Jazz could possibly have 2 1st round picks next year on their rookie deals for 4 years. The Jazz have enough cap room even after extending Hayward and Favors to sign a big time free agent next year. The future is bright. The Jazz have a good thing going. Stop worrying about what Hayward and Favors can’t do. What they can do is a lot of good basketball for a long time. To me, they are worth every penny.