New Orleans Pelicans: Weighing value new deal with Derrick Favors

PORTLAND, OREGON - DECEMBER 23: Derrick Favors #22 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - DECEMBER 23: Derrick Favors #22 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Providing a great defensive value when healthy, Derrick Favors presents an interesting decision for the New Orleans Pelicans front office this summer.

In his first full year with a team from outside of Utah, Derrick Favors provided leadership and a hardened on-court presence for a blossoming New Orleans Pelicans locker room. However, he hasn’t done enough to make rejoining the team next season a surefire bet.

Receiving praise for their core of young players from around the league, it’s well known that the Pelicans are building something special for the future. However, there are crucial moves that need to be made from year-to-year to give this team its competitive boost.

While the New Orleans Pelicans primarily spent the summer of 2019 getting younger, the team made a pair of crucial moves, the additions of J.J. Redick and Favors, to give the team enough veteran talent to make noise in the Western Conference.

Redick joined the team on the free-agent market, inking a two-year deal with New Orleans, but Favors joined the team via an exchange for second-round picks, the price paid for a player who only had a year left on his contract.

Traded over from the Utah Jazz this summer, who needed to deal Favors in order to take on the salaries of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, the center give the New Orleans Pelicans a traditional starting anchor.

Favors also wanted to be a part of the forward-thinking Pelicans, as the center apparently asked Utah to target New Orleans as his landing spot if the team had to move his contract. Knowing that he wants to be a part of the organization is likely to weigh on David Griffin and Trajan Langdon.

The Pelicans, both in their public addresses and in their player personnel decisions, show strong inclinations towards building a culture around guys who actually want to be a part of the organization.

Whatever the New Orleans Pelicans decide to do with Favors should come down to basketball, not cash.

Hampered early this season by injury and the untimely passing of his mother (who he would text before every game), Derrick Favors has actually had a pretty strong 45 games in New Orleans.

Averaging nearly a double-double at 9.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest while shooting a career-best 62% from the field on 6.8 attempts.

Turning 29-years-old in July with 677 games and 17,356 minutes under his belt, Favors isn’t going to stay sharp forever and the team likely wants to see what Jaxson Hayes looks like as their primary center.

There’s also the team’s seemingly inevitable turn to small-ball with Zion Williamson occupying the primary center position in New Orleans, though the 19-year-old needs more development before the Pelicans can feel comfortable making that commitment.

On the other hand, the center provides the best defensive impact of any on the roster and his 108 defensive rating ranks second on the team to only Zion.

There’s no denying the New Orleans Pelicans play better defense with Favors on the floor, as teams score 5.3 fewer points (ranking in the 86th percentile) and shoot -1.8% worse (ranking in the 78th percentile) when the Pels play with their starting center, per Cleaning the Glass data.

Important to a Favors return is his on-court chemistry with Williamson. The duo is the highest-net-rated lineup (+17) this season for Pelicans combos that have at least 100 minutes of shared floor time.

If the Pelicans front office has data that shows Favors isn’t providing quite the impact they’d like to see, I could see why the team could look in another direction.

However, with limited money on the table this summer, as teams are either already cap-strung or will have less money to spend in the event of a salary cap reduction due to the pandemic, Derrick Favors is unlikely to command a lot of money in free agency.

As long as Favors wants to be back and isn’t interested in a long-term or big-money contract, it makes a lot of sense for the New Orleans Pelicans to give the center a one-to-two year deal this summer, perhaps with a team option, to hold up their depth and provide veteran leadership.

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While the New Orleans Pelicans have a lot to think about heading into the future, a short-term deal with Derrick Favors seems to make a lot of sense for their present.