Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris meet up with new teammates
INDIANAPOLIS — A bit of news that came out of Thursday's Utah Jazz practice resides on the opposite end of the shocker scale from Wednesday's mind-boggling blockbuster trade with the New Jersey Nets.
Don't brace yourself or bother taking a seat while reading this next part. OK, here goes the non-shocker: Veteran point guard Devin Harris and rookie big man Derrick Favors are pretty dang happy about receiving new leases on their NBA lives.
Joining the Jazz organization and being freed from the Nets can have that affect.
"It's an exciting opportunity," Harris said.
"It's a new beginning for me," Favors added.
Both players — who ended up with Utah along with future first-round picks in a stunning deal that also sent Deron Williams to New Jersey — were physically cleared Thursday to practice and play for the Jazz after an exam in the Garden State by Utah's team physician, Dr. Lyle Mason.
Their first workout with the Jazz happened Thursday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse — home of Gordon Hayward's Butler Bulldogs — after they flew to Indiana from New Jersey following their phyiscals.
The dealt duo's first playing opportunity with their new team is expected to happen tonight when the Jazz visit the Indiana Pacers.
So far, so good for the ex-Nets, who picked up 14 wins overnight after being dealt away from 17-win New Jersey to 31-27 Utah.
"Guys were great welcoming me," Harris said of his new teammates, who met the two newcomers Thursday in Indianapolis shortly before practice.
Replacing a two-time All-Star and arguably the premier point guard in the NBA in Williams isn't as overwhelming or intimidating for Harris as some might imagine.
"Obviously, Deron was a great franchise player for this team, and it's some big shoes to fill," Harris said. "But I'm just looking forward to the opportunity of going out there and playing for a playoff team."
The one-time All-Star — and No. 5 pick of the 2004 draft — pointed out that he's been in similar replace-a-star situations a couple of times. That happened early in his career in Dallas where he took over for Steve Nash, and it happened again in New Jersey where he replaced Jason Kidd.
"It's something I've been grown accustomed to, something I'm used to," Harris said. "I just go out there and try to be myself and play my game and try to help the team win. ... I'm just excited to get back into a winning situation."
Harris acknowledged that his game has slipped a bit the past couple of seasons when he struggled along with the woeful Nets. But he believes his style — his quickness, penetrating skills, a solid mid-range game and defensive toughness — can help the Jazz continue (regain?) their winning tradition and "make some noise in the playoffs."
Added Harris: "It's just been a while since I've been in a relevant situation, and I'm excited to be here."
Harris, who's in his seventh season, believes he'll quickly pick up the Jazz offense. He jokingly asked coach Ty Corbin if they're going to run anything other than the usual six plays Utah thrives on.
"Everybody knows Utah's plays," Harris said, smiling. "It'll be fun trying to find a rhythm with the guys out there and try to make the transition as smooth as possible."
Corbin smiled when he heard Harris' response: "I'm glad he said he's familiar with it. Hopefully, the learning curve won't be as long."
Though his potential is sky-high, the 6-foot-10 Favors will likely take a bit longer to become adept to running a Jazz system that is a bit more complicated than Harris might want to admit.
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