Matching Gordon Hayward’s max offer sheet – the one for $63 million over four years he received late Tuesday night in Charlotte – is a steep endeavor, at face value.
But the Utah Jazz and general manager Dennis Lindsey have done such a diligent job in clearing space under the salary cap that the Jazz can afford to eat the money, bring Hayward back into the fold and hardly blink.
...The signs of Hayward receiving huge money were apparent at the beginning of free agency. Shooting guard Jodie Meeks left the Los Angeles Lakers and signed with the Detroit Pistons for $19 million over three years. Shooting guard Avery Bradley will receive $32 million over four seasons with the Boston Celtics.
Hayward may not be a player worthy of max money, but he is a much better player than Meeks and Bradley, both of whom are not much more than specialists. Clearly, the market thought a lot of Hayward. The Cleveland Cavaliers flirted with him, and would have tendered him a significant offer, but backed off the minute they realized they were a major player in the LeBron James sweepstakes.
And Hayward’s numbers this past season — 16 points, five assists, and five rebounds per game — suggest that he’s the kind of rare all-around talent that many teams around the league crave.
...Sources told The Tribune at the beginning of free agency that the Jazz sees him as a player capable of making a significant leap forward, and one capable of shooting much better with new head coach Quin Snyder.
Opening the checkbook
This marks the second consecutive free agency period in which Charlotte – which for years was deemed frugal under owner Michael Jordan’s leadership – has opened its checkbook wide for a top target. It landed forward Al Jefferson on three-year, $40.5 million deal last July and was widely criticized for overpaying for him at the time, but he went on to put up big numbers (21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds per game) for one of the Eastern Conference’s most surprising teams.
- Sam Amick, USA Today
The Hornets are in an interesting position right now. With Josh McRoberts committing to sign with the Miami Heat, they have some $18 million in cap space available, with little need in the frontcourt or at point guard. If Charlotte wants Lance Stephenson, he’s surely theirs. It’s unclear how interested the Hornets really are, but if the Hayward offer sheet gets matched and Chandler Parsons ends up back in Houston, there are no other young wings on the market who are established starters. If not Stephenson, Charlotte might have to go the trade route to upgrade on the wing.
Hayward checks a lot of boxes for what management wants in one of its cornerstone players. The Jazz values his all-around assets as a basketball player, his ability to work with and without the ball, his defensive prowess, his size and athleticism for his wing positions, his array of offensive weapons, his leadership potential, his character and his presence in the community.
“It’s safe to say Gordon will get a very significant salary,” Lindsey said the day after the 2013-14 season concluded. “But we stand by our statement that we hope he’s a member of the Utah Jazz for the length of his career. ... One thing that we want to make clear, Gordon Hayward is a valued member of the Utah Jazz.”