Favors, 28, has been limited to just nine games so far this season due to knee and back injuries and the death of his mother. He rejoined the team this week, but won’t be active on Wednesday night as he continues to work on his conditioning after a lengthy absence, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic.
Although there’s no indication yet that the Pelicans are prepared to become sellers in advance of February’s trade deadline, Favors would be a logical trade candidate if the team goes in that direction. The big man has been a reliable contributor for years and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, with a $17.65MM expiring contract.
“He was in Utah for just about all his career and it looks like he struggled to adjust in New Orleans and that is something you worry about,” one league executive told Deveney. “But look, he is a dependable big guy. He can play better defense than he’s played this season. He is a good rebounder. He can give you 12, 15 points. Defenses can’t afford to lose him, he can make you pay. There’s going to be teams looking for a guy like that. But if you’re New Orleans, you’ve got a young guy you want to have those minutes.”
As that exec notes, the Pelicans have a young center in Jaxson Hayes who may see even more significant minutes if the team falls further out of playoff contention. Additionally, Zion Williamson might spend time at the five once he’s healthy and ready to make his NBA regular-season debut. With Jahlil Okafor also in the mix at center, Favors could make more sense as a trade chip — especially if the Pels don’t expect to retain him beyond this season.
Given his struggles so far this season and his sizeable cap charge, the Pelicans shouldn’t expect a major return for Favors, Deveney writes. Still, it was just five months ago that New Orleans surrendered a pair of future second-round picks for the right to take on the center’s contract. If the Pels take back some money in a deal, they could reasonably ask for one or two second-rounders.