SALT LAKE CITY — Derrick Favors showed up to his press conference Monday morning with a tight haircut, looking like a new man ready to embrace new adventures.
Whether or not Favors has a fresh, clean look, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is impressed with how much his rising star has grown since being traded to Utah as part of the Deron Williams swap with New Jersey in February 2010.
The exciting part for Corbin is that the coach and the Jazz organization believe the young power forward, who recently signed a $47.7 million extension through 2017-18, still has oodles of untapped potential.
“He’s 22 years old. He has a lot of room to grow,” Corbin said. “He’s shown a lot of growth to this point, but we expect a lot more from him and he expects a lot more from himself and his teammates expect it also.
“We as a family will continue to work with him, as he will continue to work with us to be the best that we can be.”
For nearly 30 minutes before Monday’s practice, Jazz brass spent nearly as much time complimenting Favors the man as they did Favors the player.
Jazz owner Gail Miller wasn’t able to attend the conference because of other out-of-town obligations, but general manager Dennis Lindsey relayed a thought she shared with him during recent contract negotiations.
“Can we get more players like Derrick?” Miller asked Lindsey.
“I didn’t tell Derrick and (agent Wallace Prather) that during the negotiations,” the Jazz GM added. “I took it that Gail wants to keep Derrick in the fold. It’s much appreciated.”
Favors has admitted he wanted that first season in Utah to end about the same time he arrived from New Jersey. He was 19, feeling dejected, displaced and disoriented.
By the next season, however, something started to click for the youngster from Atlanta.
That second year with the Jazz (2011-12), he bought an apartment, started to open up to teammates and noticed that he liked the friendly atmosphere in his new environment.
“My second year here it just started feeling like home,” Favors said.
Now Favors owns a Salt Lake City home and is under contract for the next five seasons.
That happened, by the way, even though he’s yet to find a Southern-style restaurant in Utah that hits the spot like Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Georgia.
“I haven’t found one yet,” he said when asked if he gets any home-style cooking at Utah restaurants. “I’ve got to stay away from that stuff.”
INJURY UPDATE: Some mixed news on the injury front came out of Monday’s practice. For the first time since their respective injuries, Marvin Williams (Achilles, June) and Brandon Rush (knee, January) participated in a full NBA practice.
Neither is expected to play for a while, but progress is being made.
The Jazz need that good news, too, considering only 10 players will likely be able to play in Wednesday’s season opener at home against Oklahoma City.
Center Andris Biedrins is the latest to go down. He suffered a moderate left ankle sprain toward the end of Monday’s practice session. X-rays were negative, but he isn’t expected to be available vs. the Thunder.
Point guard Trey Burke (finger) and Jeremy Evans (rotator cuff) are also sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
HIGH PRAISE: Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward smiled when asked about the compliment he received last week from Doc Rivers.
Before their recent preseason game, the Clippers coach admitted this about Hayward: “I have a man crush on that guy. He’s really good.”
“It’s just pretty cool that somebody respects your game like that,” Hayward said. “He’s a great coach. It’s nice that he respects my game.”
NOTABLE COMMENTS: Favors while expressing gratitude to Jazz brass: “I also wanted to thank my mom because she’s a big part of this, too. She told me she loves Utah. She hopes I stay here.”
- Jazz CEO Greg Miller: “I see you as a cornerstone of our organization as we pursue an NBA championship, and I’m thrilled that you’re with us.”
- Jazz president Randy Rigby: “This is another hallmark day for the Utah Jazz.”
- Miller Sports Properties president Steve Miller: “I would like to congratulate Derrick on re-signing with our team and express the excitement that I have individually and the appreciation that we have as a family and an organization to Derrick and his willingness to play a pivotal role, a key role, in our efforts to build a championship-caliber team.”
- Lindsey: “He’s just 22. We feel really good about who he is as a player, but we feel even better about Derrick as a person.”
- Corbin: “I’m excited for Derrick to see him grow as an individual, how he’s grown up to this point, grown as an individual and a player, how he’s embraced this organization and community. He has a lot of work left to be done, but we’re extremely excited about the player he has become so far. We look forward to him continuing to be one of the key players for us. He has demonstrated how he’ll continue to work.”
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