SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor revealed Monday that the team did an extensive background check on both Devin Harris and Derrick Favors before trading for them last week.
It was worth their time to dig into Favors' history in Atlanta — where the 19-year-old grew up and played one year at Georgia Tech — and to evaluate Harris' cheesehead history back to his youth in Wisconsin.
In doing their due diligence before pulling off the most surprising deal in franchise history — a shocking swap that sent the team's star, Deron Williams, to New Jersey — the Jazz discovered they were getting solid players and characters.
"The people that they are, are terrific," O'Connor said. "And I think that they fit into our DNA and our culture and we're happy to have them on board.."
Team owner Gail Miller also gave the new Jazz players a warm welcome in their introductory press conference in Utah.
"We're excited to have you here," Miller said. "And hope that you enjoy mingling with the community and with the team and with all of the management, and that you feel comfortable."
Mingling with the community was both an interesting and fitting phrase.
In the highlight of the press conference, Harris told a funny story about how a fan chased him down at a mall on his first day in Utah as a Jazz player.
"I was a little freaked out," he said, laughing, "but it was a good freaked out."
Other highlights from the Q&A session:
Harris on how he feels about joining a team with a strong tradition of stellar point guard play: "I don't think it's added pressure. I think it's more excitement. I know the predecessors before me, obviously Deron was a great person, a great player. He's one of my better friends in the league. I know what kind of impact he had on this organization. . . . I look forward to the challenge and I look forward to go out there and prove myself."
Favors, who revealed that his uncle will move here with him to help him get acclimated, on his rookie season: "Besides trade rumors, it's been a good season for me. I feel like I've still got a lot of things to work on, on offense, especially with Utah just getting into the system with them.
Harris on how surprised he was to be traded to Utah: "It was a bit of a surprise. (My agent and I) had talked a little bit over the All-star break and he'd mentioned Utah as possibly a scenario." (The biggest surprise for him was that Williams was included in the swap.)
O'Connor on how high Favors, the No. 3 overall pick in 2010, was on the Jazz's draft board last summer: "No comment, but he was higher than three."
Harris on his impression of coach Ty Corbin: "He's been great. He's kind of let me just be me. He's allowed me to progress within the system, and we watch film on a daily basis, just pointing out things and giving me tips to progress as fast as I can."
Harris' parting compliment about Favors: "I would like to add, though, he does have a sweet jump shot."8 comments on this story
And Harris about playing for the home team at EnergySolutions Arena: "In the past, Utah was a place as a visitor you would not like to come. Obviously, the fans are very hard on the visiting team, but I'm excited especially for (Monday vs. Celtics). The fans have been very welcoming."
Some, it turns out, more than others.
INJURY UPDATE: Mehmet Okur will visit his doctor today for a check-up that will determine whether or not the center can resume playing basketball after a three-week lower-back rehabilitation process.