Derrick Favors

Contract Notes: Jokic, Gordon, Nurkic, Jazz

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t technically sign a maximum-salary contract when he re-upped with the club this summer, but he can increase his 2018/19 earnings to the maximum if he helps lead Denver to postseason success.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (subscription required), Jokic is one of several NBA players with incentives in their contracts for the coming season. In Jokic’s case, he’s currently about $862K shy of his maximum salary, but he can earn $431K if the Nuggets advance to the playoffs, and another $431K if they win in the first round.

Here are a few more details from Marks on this season’s incentives and bonuses:

  • Aaron Gordon has a potential path to an All-Star nod in an Eastern Conference that lost more top talent this offseason. Gordon’s new contract with the Magic calls for a $500K bonus if he’s named an All-Star, per Marks. He could also further increase his earnings by being named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams at season’s end.
  • Jusuf Nurkic can earn an extra $1.25MM this season if he appears in 70 games and the Trail Blazers crack the 50-win threshold, according to Marks. Nurkic played in 79 games last season, but because Portland only had 49 wins, this incentive is considered unlikely and doesn’t currently count against Nurkic’s cap hit.
  • Davis Bertans has to meet several criteria in order to earn a $250K bonus on his new contract with the Spurs — the veteran forward must play in 70 games, make 165 three-pointers, and average 6.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, as Marks details.
  • Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Derrick Favors all have incentives on their new deals with the Jazz, with a focus on games played — they all must appear in at least 67 games to start earning their bonuses. Favors, in particular, has plenty riding on his performance, as he can earn $2.8MM in incentives. Of those incentives, $900K are considered likely and already count against his cap charge.
  • Marks also notes that several players will have a chance to become eligible for super-max contracts with their current clubs if they make All-NBA teams this season. That list includes Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), and Kemba Walker (Hornets). Additionally, Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns would start at 27.5% of the cap if he’s named to the All-NBA Third Team, 28.5% if he’s named to the Second Team, and 30% for First Team.

Northwest Notes: Noel, Thomas, Favors, Blazers

Five years removed from being drafted No. 6 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, newly-acquired Thunder big man Nerlens Noel is looking to rehabilitate both his game and reputation in Oklahoma City, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman.

A one-and-done talent at college powerhouse Kentucky, Noel is aware of the rumors surrounding his game – that he’s a talented but unwilling to work – but he’s ready to come out this season and turn things around.

The Thunder are ready for that too, which is why head coach Billy Donovan and All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George all made recruiting pitches to Noel on the first night of free agency.

“I’m excited about having him,” Donovan said. “He’s early in his career, and I know his career probably hasn’t evolved into what he’d hoped when he was a rookie. But he’s still very young, and he’s still got a lot of time to continue to get better.”

Noel has yet to have much of any success at the NBA level so far. He sat out his first season in Philadelphia recovering from injury and then saw his playing time dwindle after the Sixers drafted up-and-coming star Joel Embiid. But now that Noel feels he has a new home where winning is a priority, he is ready to prove his worth.

“You want to be in a situation where you’re wanted on a team that really wants to win,” Noel said. “That means the utmost to me, and that’s what my game is. I don’t think playing on teams that are really headed in the other direction complements me as well or makes me look as good as I might want to.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Armed with deep motivation after having his career curtailed by injury, Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas is eager to play for a team who wanted him, reports Christopher Dempsey of Nuggets.com. Thomas, who played for head coach Mike Malone in Sacramento during his breakout season in 2013-14, credits Malone’s trust in him as a key to his continued success.
  • Per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.comJazz forward Derrick Favors is looking for an increased role on offense next season. During his free agent meeting with Utah’s front office, the two parties spoke about getting Favors more cuts to the basket and playing out of pick-and-roll or dribble-handoffs more often.
  • The Trail Blazers have made a couple of minor roster moves in the past day or so, deciding to retain guard Wade Baldwin and part ways with center Georgios Papagiannis.

Contract Details: Curry, Evans, Exum, Favors

Since the July moratorium lifted on Friday, more and more official contract details are surfacing for completed deals. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders and Bleacher Report has been relaying many of those details on his Twitter feed as he updates his salary database at Basketball Insiders, so we’ll pass along several of his notes on 2018’s free agent and draft pick signings.

Via Pincus, here are some specifics on the deals completed within the last several days:

Free agent signings:

  • Seth Curry‘s agreement with the Trail Blazers was originally reported as a two-year contract with a second-year player option, but it appears to just be a one-year, $2.795MM deal (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers‘ deal with Tyreke Evans has a cap hit of $12.4MM, which includes $100K in likely incentives (Twitter link).
  • Dante Exum can technically only earn the full $33MM on his three-year deal with the Jazz if he maxes out his incentives. The base value of the deal is $9.6MM per year, but it can drop to $9.1MM annually or increase to $11MM depending on his bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Derrick Favors can earn up to $18.8MM per year in his deal with the Jazz, or as little as $16MM annually (Twitter link). The cap hit for now is $16.9MM per year, with a July 6 guarantee date for year two.
  • Raul Neto‘s pact with the Jazz also includes modest incentives — he has an annual cap charge of $2.15MM, which can increase or decrease by $50K depending on his bonuses (Twitter link). Neto’s second year has a July 6 guarantee date.
  • Isaiah Briscoe‘s agreement with the Magic is a three-year, minimum-salary contract with a $500K guarantee in year one (Twitter link). It uses part of Orlando’s mid-level exception.

Draft pick signings:

  • The Suns signed No. 31 pick Elie Okobo to a deal that starts at $1.2MM, then is worth the minimum for the next three years (Twitter link). Two seasons are guaranteed, with a non-guaranteed third year and a fourth-year team option.
  • Devonte’ Graham‘s three-year deal with the Hornets is worth approximately $4.07MM (Twitter link). The first two years are guaranteed for the 34th overall pick, who was signed using part of Charlotte’s mid-level exception.
  • The Magic‘s three-year contract with No. 35 pick Melvin Frazier starts at $1.05MM and is guaranteed for two years, with a third-year team option (Twitter link). It also uses part of Orlando’s mid-level exception.
  • Gary Trent Jr., the 37th overall pick in the draft, got a fully guaranteed three-year deal from the Trail Blazers (Twitter link). Although all three years are worth the minimum salary, Portland had to use part of its mid-level exception to go more than two years for Trent.
  • The Lakers‘ deal with No. 39 pick Isaac Bonga starts at $1MM and includes two guaranteed seasons (Twitter link).

Jazz Re-Sign Derrick Favors

JULY 6, 11:55am: The Jazz have officially re-signed their top free agent priority for the summer, the team announced on its website. Favors has been with Utah longer than anyone else currently on the roster and is the 12th player to reach 500 games for the franchise. The Jazz also finalized deals with Dante Exum and Raul Neto.

JULY 2, 2:02pm: The Jazz and free agent big man Derrick Favors have reached an agreement on a new contract that will keep Favors in Utah, reports Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links).

League sources tell Jones that the deal will be for two years, while agent Wallace Prather informs Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) that it’ll be worth $36MM. Michael Scotto of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that Favors’ earnings over two years could exceed $37MM via incentives.

However, the second year on the agreement will be non-guaranteed, according to Jones (Twitter link). That will allow Utah to retain flexibility for 2019, when several contracts could come of the club’s books.

Favors, who will turn 27 later this month, enjoyed a strong bounce-back season for the Jazz in 2017/18 after an injury-plagued 2016/17 campaign. In 77 games (all starts) last season, Favors averaged 12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 1.1 BPG with a career-best .563 FG%.

While Favors probably isn’t an ideal frontcourt partner for Rudy Gobert, given their overlapping skill sets, the duo found a way to make it work last season. Favors also provides the Jazz with rim protection and rebounding at the five when Gobert is on the bench — or when Gobert misses time due to injury, as he did last season.

Favors reached his decision after meeting with the Jazz in Atlanta for a few hours on Sunday. According to Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News (via Twitter), “a couple” other teams were in the mix for the veteran.

With Favors back in the fold, the Jazz – who are focusing on internal growth and development – figure to focus on retaining point guards Dante Exum and Raul Neto. The team will also have decisions to make soon on the non-guaranteed salaries for Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh, which would become guaranteed next week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Udoh, Thunder, Tolliver, Blazers

The Jazz have been relatively generous during free agency so far this summer compared to most teams, handing out a two-year, $36MM contract to forward Derrick Favors, agreeing to a three-year, $33MM deal with backup guard Dante Exum, and reaching terms on a two-year, $4MM pact with seldom-used guard Raul Neto.

Furthermore, Utah has already guaranteed the 2018/19 salary of Thabo Sefolosha, who was limited to only 39 games last season. As such, it would appear that the Jazz are intent on sticking with their 2017/18 roster for now, which means that both Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh can be cautiously optimistic while waiting for their 2018/19 salary to become guaranteed.

Udoh in particular, who averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 63 games for the Jazz last season, and whose $3.36MM salary becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on Utah’s roster past July 9, is trying to remain positive while awaiting Utah’s decision on his future, writes Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News.

“You know, we’ll see what happens,” Udoh told the Deseret News. “I’m grateful. I’m getting great workouts at the facility. I’ve been here pretty much since the season has been over outside of a couple trips, but I’ve just been getting in good work.”

Per Woodyard, Udoh is excited and prepared to return in a Jazz uniform next season, but also understands the business-like nature of the NBA.

“It’s gonna be a fun season,” Udoh said. “The West has gotten better but we’ve gotten better and we’re gonna be the same team next year. Starting last year, you didn’t know what you were going to get with so many new pieces, but now we’ll be ready from the beginning.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes that although Paul George did in fact want to be a Laker at this time last year, he is now happy in Oklahoma City after signing a four-year, $137MM max contract with the Thunder on the eve of free agency.
  • According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star TribuneTimberwolves’ free-agent signee forward Anthony Tolliver chose a return to Minnesota over four other pursuing teams because of the familiarity he has for the franchise – he played for the Wolves from 2010 to 2012 – and because “(he) want(s) to win.”
  • While it’s probably a bit bold to get too excited about the free agent signing of a backup, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes that the addition of 24 year-old center Nerlens Noel on a minimum-salary deal is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Thunder.
  • Per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, a couple of key subplots have emerged for the Trail Blazers during the team’s summer league minicamp. First, it’s an opportunity for Portland to get a first-hand look at rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. in an NBA practice. Moreover, both Wade Baldwin and Georgios Papagiannis are fighting for their NBA lives while Jake Layman looks to secure a more prominent role for next season.

Free Agent Rumors: Favors, Ellington, Tolliver

The Jazz have already met with free agent big man Derrick Favors, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Favors met with club general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder for three hours today to discuss his future.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated, also reporting on the meeting, tweets that the forward is expected to make a decision on Monday. Favors – like the Jazz in general – enjoyed a pleasant surprise of a 2017/18 season and meshed with center Rudy Gobert in ways that he hadn’t previously.

That successful year has breathed new life into Favors’ future with the franchise that he’s played for since 2011. Favors averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, a notable improvement from the 9.5 and 6.1 he posted in 2016/17.

Both the Timberwolves and Mavs were previously linked to the 26-year-old.

There’s more from around the league tonight:

Free Agent Rumors: Gordon, Brewer, Favors

While the Magic plan to pursue a long-term deal with restricted free agent Aaron Gordon, another team to keep an eye on is the Lakers, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

It’s no surprise that Gordon, a 23-year-old fresh off of a career year with averages of 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, is generating interest in free agency but Zach Lowe of ESPN writes that Orlando may not have much pressure to go as high as the max to retain him.

The Lakers join a number of other teams apparently interested in poaching Gordon’s services, including the Pacers (story) and Kings (story).

  • The Rockets have scheduled a meeting with free agent wing James Nunnally, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). Nunnally, who has also been linked to Portland and Minnesota, played for Turkish team Fenerbahce last season and knocked down 55% of his three-pointers in EuroLeague play, making him an interesting fit for Houston.
  • Having already been linked to several potential targets since the free agent period opened, the Timberwolves have also “planted seeds” with Corey Brewer and Davis Bertans, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). As Wolfson observes, Minnesota has made a habit in recent years of spreading a wide net in free agency, inquiring on dozens of players.
  • In a later tweet, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News added that the Timberwolves have also checked in on Derrick Favors, Mike Scott, David Nwaba and Ian Clark.

Derrick Favors Sets Meeting With Jazz

Representatives of the Jazz will meet with free agent big man Derrick Favors Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Both sides are confident that Favors will return to Utah, tweets Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. He cites the Suns as a team that might take a chance on Favors, but adds that Phoenix needs a point guard and is in the market for Toronto’s Fred VanVleet.
Favors, 26, has been in Utah since arriving in a 2011 trade. He averaged 15.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in 77 games this season and played particularly well when starting center Rudy Gobert was sidelined by injuries.
The Jazz have said they will place a priority on keeping Favors, along with restricted free agents Dante Exum and Raul Neto. They must also decide by Sunday whether to guarantee a $5.25MM contract for Thabo Sefolosha, with Jones stating that Sefolosha’s camp is confident they will.

FA Rumors: Jazz, Bertans, G. Green, Caupain

The Jazz will enter the offseason with a little spending flexibility, but their top priority is retaining their own free agents. As Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes, general manager Dennis Lindsey has made it clear privately and publicly that the team wants to re-sign Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto, who will have the opportunity to reach the open market on Sunday. Favors, in particular, has already “piqued the interest” of multiple teams, per Jones, but the big man and the Jazz have mutual interest in continuing their relationship.

League sources tell Jones that the Jazz will do their due diligence on top free agents, but the club likely won’t have cap room available for outside targets. Instead, Utah will have its mid-level exception available, and in this market, it’s not unreasonable to expect that exception – worth about $8.6MM – to be enough for a starter or a high-level backup, writes Jones. While there’s no guarantee that the Jazz will use its full MLE on one player, the team could target a scorer capable of creating his own shot, Jones notes.

Here’s more on free agency, with July 1 right around the corner:

  • The Jazz and Nets are among the teams expected to challenge the Spurs for restricted free agent Davis Bertans, a source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that Brooklyn will seek a stretch four, and Utah was in the market for a similar player during the season. Bertans, a 6’10” forward who has made 38.4% of his career three-pointers, fits the bill.
  • Free agent swingman Gerald Green will meet with the Rockets in Los Angeles on July 1, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Haynes, Green will have multiple suitors.
  • The Magic and guard Troy Caupain have discussed a possible two-way contract agreement, per Nicola Lupo of Sportando (Twitter link). Caupain spent last season with the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate.

Lowe’s Latest: James, Thunder, RFAs

The Lakers may not necessarily need a star in place to lure LeBron James, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a massive round-up of free agency notes. If James were to sign in Los Angeles alongside the team’s existing young stars and plethora of cap space they’d immediately become one of the league’s most appealing destinations for the next 12 months.

The comment comes in response to the notion that the Lakers are growing desperate to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs prior to James’ opt-in deadline tomorrow at 10:59pm CST. As things stand, both the Celtics and Sixers appear poised to offer better packages than what Lowe speculates L.A. might.

The King’s decision will have a ripple effect on the rest of the league, especially the Eastern Conference. If the Raptors, for example, were to watch James head to the West, it would make keeping their current core in place more appealing considering that their path to the Finals would be hypothetically easier.

Here’s a taste of the rest of Lowe’s findings:

  • If the Thunder can convince Paul George to return to Oklahoma City, it will be a monumental victory for general manager Sam Presti. If he leaves, the club would be forced to at least think about blowing the current squad up and trading Russell Westbrook.
  • Only six teams have notable amounts of potential cap space and half of those – the Hawks, Bulls and Kings – are telling teams that they’re interested in using that space to absorb bad contracts and pick up assets.
  • It’s unclear that there will be much of a market for Derrick Favors beyond, potentially the Mavs. It may make more sense for the big man to stay with the Jazz after finally starting to click alongside Rudy Gobert in Quin Snyder‘s offense last season.
  • The two best candidates to sign a qualifying offer this summer and approach next summer as unrestricted free agents are Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. Lowe writes that Nurkic turned down a “rich” four-year extension last fall but might have a hard time finding a team willing to offer more than the mid-level exception this summer.
  • It stands to reason that Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker will yield significant offers from the Magic, Bulls and Bucks  respectively but none of those teams have reason to offer a max contract right away.
  • The Pacers could make life harder for the Magic by putting together an offer in the $20MM range for Gordon. Lowe writes that there has been “mild discontent for years” about Gordon’s role in Orlando’s offense.
  • The Nuggets tried “feverishly” to trade for a second first-round pick last Thursday in the hopes of nabbing Zhaire Smith. Denver’s 2019 first-rounder was on the table in those talks.

For more free agency notes, including some potential contract extension candidates and the reasoning behind Nikola Jokic not getting a player option in the fifth year of his new deal with the Nuggets, check out the full feature at ESPN.