To put it kindly, plenty of NBA players do not have Utah at the top of their free agent destination list. It’s not glamorous; it’s not the city on the tour with the best nightlife. If you’re young and rich, a laid back, outdoorsy, conservative town is not going to be your first choice.
Derrick Favors was one of those guys when he was traded to Utah midway through his rookie season as part of the Deron Williams deal. But he’s come around. He was honest about his experience, speaking to Adi Joseph of The Sporting News.
“I didn’t expect to stay (long term), no,” Favors says, more than four years after the trade and two years after he signed a four-year contract extension with the Jazz. “Utah was so different, I was so new to it. I didn’t expect to stay.
“But as the years have gone on, I’ve grown to love it. I got used to it. I just started feeling comfortable,” he says. “I like how calm and chill it is in Utah. It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. The bad part is, maybe after a big game you want to go out and hang out or whatever, and there’s really not too many spots like that in Utah. Down (in Atlanta), you could go anywhere. Out in Utah, it’s chill, laid-back. There’s not a lot of rah-rah stuff going on. You can focus on your job, your career, whatever else you have going on.”
Not every player is cut out for being a member of the Jazz; it takes a certain, more mature personality. To be fair, not every player is cut out for being a member of the Lakers/Knicks/Heat — there are players that get overwhelmed and swallowed up in the off-the-court attractions in those cities and lose focus on their jobs.
The Jazz have traditionally been a smart and patient organization, finding the right players and working on chemistry. They have built a team on the rise — everyone’s favorite to jump up into the West playoffs this season. They have a strong front court with Favors and Rudy Gobert, a wing playmaker in Gordon Hayward, quality young shooters like Alec Burks and Rodney Hood, and an interesting mix at point guard with Trey Burke and the injured Dante Exum.
Winning cures a lot of ills in the NBA.
If the Jazz continue their upward trajectory, plenty of other players will come out of the woodwork and be willing to suit up in Utah.