Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — While celebrating Derrick Favors’ contract extension at a press conference Monday morning, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey leaked part of a conversation he had with the power forward’s agent during negotiations.
Wallace Prather, the man Lindsey described as being a “father figure” to Favors, opened the talks with a query that caught Utah’s lead negotiator off guard.
“You guys may not believe this,” Lindsey said, “but the first question that Wallace had for me was not, ‘How much money is Derrick going to get?’ It (was), ‘Can you keep the young core together?’ ”
Lindsey smiled relating the story and added, “That question was very much appreciated by ownership.”
It set the tone for an amicable resolution, which came almost two weeks ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for extending contracts for 2010 draftees. A week ago Saturday, the 6-foot-10 Favors signed an incentive-based four-year deal worth at least $47.7 million. It kicks in after this season, when the fourth-year player will make $6 million, and keeps the Atlanta native in Utah through 2017-18.
“I want to stay in Utah,” Favors said. “I’m happy being here.”
Though this conference was about the 22-year-old Favors securing his future in the Beehive State, the bigger question looming over the Jazz organization is the same one his agent asked Lindsey.
Will the Jazz be able to keep the young core together?
Lindsey said the team will exercise options to keep center Enes Kanter and guard Alec Burks on board through 2014-15, but shooting guard Gordon Hayward’s future remains up in the air.
“If,” Jazz CEO Greg Miller said, “we have players that we think have the skill and the ability that it takes to win a championship or at least show promise of that and we can get all of the negotiations and contract speculation behind us so that we can focus on playing the game of basketball and getting better every single game, that’s going to be a good thing for all of us.”
Hayward’s camp and the Jazz have a lot of work to do before coming to an agreement that’d keep the former Butler star in a Utah uniform for another four or five years after this season.
Lindsey wouldn’t comment on the process, but, after pouring praise on Favors, Miller admitted he hopes to have Hayward’s situation settled this week.
“Gordon is a player who shows a lot of promise. I think we’ve seen a lot of growth and development with him over the last few years, and I’m very interested in keeping him as a member of the Utah Jazz,” Miller said. “The sooner we can get all that worked out, the sooner it’s not going to be a distraction. I’m hoping that we can get that done sooner than later.”
The clock is running down.
If the sides don’t strike an extension deal by 9:59 p.m. MDT on Halloween, Hayward will become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season. Utah will be in the same situation with Kanter and Burks next offseason.
“I’m still in the same spot, letting them (agent and Jazz) worry about it,” Hayward said before Monday’s practice. “Today, I’m going to focus on getting better in practice.”
Moments after Favors’ press conference, Hayward was asked if he hopes the Jazz will be holding a similar one for him this week. He deftly deflected the question to congratulate his teammate and the franchise.
“It’s great for him. I’m really happy for him,” Hayward said. “Great for the organization. Derrick’s going to be good for Utah for a long time.”
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