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February 28, 2021

Derrick Favors says 'it feels like home' to be back with the Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — If Derrick Favors needed any confirmation he made the right decision to rejoin the Utah Jazz, it came almost immediately.

Once the news got out, he had texts from Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley; Royce O’Neale and Donovan Mitchell Facetimed him to celebrate; Joe Ingles had a simple message for his old pick-and-roll partner: “Pocket pass. We back.”

“That just shows the camaraderie that we had as a team,” Favors said. “It was like a brotherhood.”

One of their brothers is now on his way home. Favors officially signed a three-year deal with the Jazz on Wednesday, returning him to the team where he spent part of nine seasons.

It was a decision that Favors didn’t need too long to think over, either. After talking with the Jazz on Friday after the free agency period opened — a call he said was more just catching up than a conversation about basketball — he spoke with his agent for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, and that was that. He stopped taking other calls or offers; he was going back to the Jazz.

Favors didn’t even let his family know before he informed the Jazz.

“I love the system there. I love the organization, the city,” Favors said. “I’m just familiar with it. It feels like home.”

But it wasn’t just about comfort level.

From his hotel room at the Disney Resort in Orlando this last summer, Favors watched his old team. He couldn’t help but wonder what they’d be like with him anchoring the second unit defense and him rolling to the hoop.

“I definitely saw that if I go back, I could definitely help that team out,” Favors said. “We could definitely do something special there.”

From his home in the Salt Lake Valley, Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey saw the same thing. Favors’ departure in the summer of 2019 had left a hole in the Jazz team — a hole that Utah had expected to fill with another veteran big on a more offensive punch. The offense improved, but not enough to cover up a team that imploded defensively as soon as Gobert walked off the court.

“We jumped at the chance to bring him back,” Lindey said in a statement. “His toughness, physicality and selflessness are key reasons he’s had such success in this league, and we’re excited about what he brings to our team.”

There were never hard feelings between the Jazz and Favors. When Utah decided to go in a new direction heading into last season, bringing in Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, Favors saw the writing on the wall. Utah didn’t have the money to keep him around, so he asked to be traded to New Orleans.

Favors knows what he’s coming back to, and the role he is expected to play. He didn’t even feel like it needed to be discussed; he is going to back up his old friend Rudy and play 20-25 minutes a night. And that’s just fine with him.

“It just felt right,” Favors said. “I want to come back. I want to play for coach Quin (Snyder). He’s, like, my favorite coach in the world right now,” Favors said.

Favors said Snyder was one of the main reasons he chose to return. He lauded how the coach puts players in positions to succeed, and how he is a believer in Snyder’s coaching style and schemes.

“I just love him,” Favors said.

And he’s excited to see how Snyder will use him in a more offensively charged version of the Jazz. He said he was excited to play alongside Conley, Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson — “guys that can put the ball in the basket.”

“It’s gonna be something different for me, but I’m definitely excited for it,” Favors said.

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