Favoring Utah: Beehive State becoming home, sweet home for Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors

Published: Tuesday, July 30 2013 10:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Upon returning from Team USA’s minicamp in Las Vegas, Derrick Favors bought a house in the mountains above his NBA workplace this past weekend.

The largest purchase of the 22-year-old’s life included his only two must-have amenities: a finished basement and a movie theater.

It also has plenty of room for his pit bull, Gotti, to roam free.

Considering the 6-foot-10 power forward is a major part of the Jazz’s youthful renaissance and has an opportunity to sign a large contract extension this offseason, buying a home in Utah is a symbolic move.

Salt Lake City is far from Favors’ hometown of Atlanta — in multiple ways.

But 2 1/2 years after he was traded to the Beehive State in the Deron Williams deal, the capital of Jazzland continues to win over this Southerner’s heart.

“There’s still work to do, but it’s starting to feel like home,” Favors said of Utah. “I’m starting to get comfortable. I’m just excited for my opportunity.”

Favors has been waiting for that opportunity since he left Georgia Tech after his freshman season in 2010.

The No. 3 pick four drafts ago just never would have imagined it would take a few years — or that it’d happen in Utah.

A new home

It wasn’t too long ago when Favors knew approximately two things about the Beehive State (and the state’s nickname was not one of them).

When he was a 19-year-old Nets rookie, he was somewhat familiar with the Jazz because, well, that comes with the territory of being an NBA player.

The second thing Favors knew was that on Feb. 23, 2011, he was following in the footsteps of Karl Malone to play in a place that was as unfamiliar to him as Uruguay. (He’d actually played at EnergySolutions Arena once in the fall of 2010 — grabbing nine rebounds in a 10-point loss to Utah — but the November visit was so nondescript he doesn’t recall ever coming to Salt Lake City before he was traded with Devin Harris and draft picks.)

“I knew nothing about Utah. Nothing at all,” Favors said. “Down South, they don’t talk that much about Utah.”

The Atlanta native hopes to change that with the help of young Jazz teammates Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke and Co.

“We’re building on something new now. We want to continue the tradition,” Favors said. “We just want to keep winning.”

And he wants that a lot.

Playing to win

Truth be known, Favors won’t be satisfied with his career until his team wins the last game of the NBA postseason.

The big question surrounding the athletic big man this summer revolves around how much money he’ll make over the course of the next four or five seasons in Utah. Will he be a max player? Will Utah wait until next offseason to re-sign him?

While he’s letting his agent deal with contract talk with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, Favors is focusing on trying to get rings instead of dollar bills.

“If I don’t get nothing else out of my career, I want to win a championship,” Favors said. “I’ve got goals of being an All-Star. At the end of my career, I want to give that speech — that Hall of Fame speech. That’s one of my biggest goals. But if I don’t get any of those, I at least want to win a championship.”

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