Tuesday morning marked the five year anniversary of the trade that sent Deron Williams to the Nets and landed Derrick Favors in Utah, a place the power forward initially wasn’t thrilled to be headed to, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News writes. But despite his initial concerns, Favors is content playing for the Jazz, Genessy adds. “Welcome to the NBA, basically. That’s my memory,” Favors said. “Coming from New Jersey, being 19 coming all the way over to Utah, a place I’d never been before. It was different, but I grew up, got used to it and I like it here. I’ve matured a lot. Obviously I’m not 19 anymore. My game changed a lot. I’ve changed as a person. Five years ago seems like forever.“ The 24-year-old still has two more seasons remaining on his contract after this one, so his loyalty to the Jazz won’t be put to the test until the summer of 2018, when he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Jazz are pleased with the development of center Tibor Pleiss and credit his four stints in the D-League this season for his improvement, Genessy notes in the same piece. “He’s getting an opportunity to play. Whatever his play looks like in my mind is what’s being accomplished is just those minutes,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Look at his line, his numbers. He’s fouling less, been more productive. Really, if you watch him, he looks more comfortable and that’s the primary thing.” The 26-year-old has appeared in 15 games for Idaho this season and has averaged 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Stampede.
- The Nuggets are a much more stable team with Michael Malone as head coach, and his no-nonsense demeanor and desire to avoid discord separates him from former Denver coach George Karl, who has had numerous issues since taking over as coach of the Kings, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes. Malone, whom Sacramento was fired last season, has observed Karl’s difficulties getting along with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, a player with whom Malone had reached a common ground, Kiszla adds. “I was real with him, I was honest with him, I coached him, I disciplined him, I held him accountable. I never tried to be his buddy. I never tried to coach around him,” Malone said of his relationship with Cousins. “And, at the end of the day, I am a competitor. I hate to lose. At the end of the day, DeMarcus is a competitor. He hates to lose. We had that in common.“
- One of the reasons that the Blazers are in the playoff hunt this season is the play of shooting guard C.J. McCollum, whose emergence is not a surprise to Portland’s front office, Ian Thomsen of NBA.com writes. “Damian [Lillard] and C.J. are our two best players,” GM Neil Olshey said. “They are our two best passers, our two best shooters and our two best scorers. The irony is, if C.J. doesn’t get hurt in camp as a rookie, then we were having this conversation two years ago. He was that good.“