Rookie-scale contracts have given teams time to assess talent, but they still have to make bets on very young players, often committing borderline star money to guys who have never worked as anything close to primary options — or who have perhaps not even started for their own teams.
The Jazz made such a wager over the weekend, reportedly signing Derrick Favors to a four-year, $49 million extension (though the team has never confirmed those numbers, and wouldn't over the weekend) that will pay him a tad more than fellow defense-first extension signee LARRY SANDERS! Favors will earn about $12 million per season — in the Joakim Noah/Al Horford salary range, about $2 million less than what Favors could have earned on a max-level contract (and what DeMarcus Cousins will earn on a contract that surely hovered over the Favors negotiations).
A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. Joe Johnson
Hey, guys, maybe you weren't in the last meeting, so I just want to catch you up. Apparently, the Barclays Center fills up on a cold Tuesday night when Milwaukee comes to town, the crowd actually rocks out a little, the Lakers-Staples theater lighting looks awesome, the Bucks are/were something of an arch-nemesis of the Nets (winning 13 in a row against the franchise, regardless of what side of the East River they were located), and Joe Johnson is now an ice-cold closer with a disturbing, growing dagger collection.
The Jazz look to be settling in as a solid bottom-four playoff seed in the Western Conference, though with Golden State off to a surprising 17-8 start, making the playoffs at all is no guarantee for the incumbent No. 8 seed. Utah is 14-12 after an exciting road win last night in Brooklyn. Before the game, head coach Tyrone Corbin huddled up for an extended one-on-one with Grantland about Utah’s rotation, its two big impending free agents, his computer-science degree, and lots of other stuff. Below, an edited transcript of our chat.
I love the big lineup, with Paul Millsap at small forward, if only because it’s different from what most teams do. We haven’t seen it since [Derrick] Favors’s foot issues started popping up. Are you going to bring it back?
Yeah, we’ll have it in the bag when the time presents itself. We’ve gotta make sure the matchups are correct. At some point, though, we’d like to use it to force our will on other teams.
1. Kentucky's Starting Five: DEUCES
It would be easy to be flippant about the starting five on Kentucky's national championship basketball team all declaring for the NBA draft, in unison, on Tuesday. You could mock coach John Calipari for building his program around one-and-done players, you could raise an eyebrow at noted NBA power broker World Wide Wes' presence at the NCAA tournament final as an obvious UK fan. Or you could just see the shared elation on the faces of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Marquis Teague, and let these guys live a little. I defy you to read this Kidd-Gilchrist quote and begrudge these guys a single thing in life: "I want to spoil my mom. I think I'm going to spoil my mom to death. That's one thing I'm looking forward to." They earned it. All of them.