The Utah Jazz are reportedly engaged in serious trade conversations to acquire 6-foot-10 big man Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls.
Tony Jones reports that if they were to bring in Mirotic, they would likely need to include Favors (via The Salt Lake Tribune):
“Utah is engaged in talks with the Chicago Bulls on a deal that would bring power forward Nikola Mirotic to Utah. Jazz forward Derrick Favors has been discussed as a potential piece that would go to Chicago, according to multiple sources.”
Utah could use someone who is a natural power forward like Mirotic and he would be a valuable player for the team.
Favors has an expiring contract at the end of the season and is projected to have a five-year market value of $59 million. But an average annual value of $11.5 million is lower than his cap hold of approximately $18 million, which would be much higher than Chicago would spend to keep him.
The Bulls already have Lauri Markannen and Bobby Portis as power forwards. Even if they decided to switch Favors to a full-time center, which the Jazz have experimented with in the absence of injured Rudy Gobert, it would be an unusual decision. The Bulls would also have to move Robin Lopez, who is still under contract as a short-term solution for next season.
One would assume that the front office would move Mirotic with the desire of tanking for a higher draft pick. There is no incentive just to add Favors as they almost definitely would not re-sign him longterm.
Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, who they received in their trade for Jimmy Butler, are a usable backcourt in Chicago. If they don’t select a wing, they could pick a developing big man who would be a much cheaper option than Favors or Lopez.
If they lose often, they can potentially get a top-ten pick and grab someone like Marvin Bagley III, DeAndre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba. They are young and can grow with the core on their current roster. But crowding the frontcourt with veterans who require full playing time, or someone like Favors who will help them win, makes little to no sense for the Bulls.
The only reason why the front office would want Favors, it seems, would be his expiring contract. With surplus cap room, they can try to lure a big-time free agent when others do not have much to spend during the offseason. But all reports indicate the team wants a first-round pick for Mirotic.
Utah would be foolish to offer Favors and a draft pick, even if it were lottery protected. If the Bulls can not get a first-round pick in this trade from another team, expect them to keep fielding offers until they receive such a deal.
They still have nearly a month to find a team willing to part with more and they can almost definitely find a franchise that could provide something they don’t already have in surplus.
Meanwhile, this means Favors is someone the Jazz are willing to part with. While he is a valuable player in the league, it seems he and Gobert have not played well together. Jesus Gomez explained the problem of the duo (via Fan Rag Sports):
“Most teams are opting for smaller frontcourts with one rim-rolling, shot-blocking big man and a combo forward who can shoot. In that environment, the Jazz’ big man duo is anachronistic. Favors has been trying to become a modern power forward for a while to change that. He was first displaced from his natural position of center when Utah drafted Enes Kanter, back in 2011. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that it’s not going to happen.”
They have been outscored by 10.0 points per 100 possessions when both are on the court at the same time. This is actually the worst two-man lineup of high-volume options for Utah.
Gobert is locked under contract until 2021 and is arguably the best player on their roster. Donovan Mitchell and Gobert are undeniably the cornerstones of the franchise, which makes Favors expendable considering he is playing out of position.
Ekpe Udoh and Jonas Jerebko can provide minutes at power forward. Joe Johnson and Thabo Sefolosha can even slide as a four when they are facing smaller lineups. Expect to hear more rumors involving Favors as teams get closer to the deadline.
If they can get another asset for him, rather than giving up an additional first-round pick for Mirotic, it would be a strong move for the franchise.
Teams who are in win-now mode and are looking for a big man (e.g. the Milwaukee Bucks) will likely be linked to potential deals.