Free agency is a period full of surprises and moments that can completely change the outlook of the upcoming season. The Charlotte Hornets wasted no time taking advantage of free agency, offering Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward, a max deal.
The offer is reportedly a 4 year deal worth $63 million. The addition of Hayward would make the Hornets one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and possible future championship contenders. Unfortunately for the Hornets, accepting the deal is not as easy as it seems.
Although Hayward accepted the contract, he is a restricted free agent – meaning he can seek to sign to another team, however, the Utah Jazz can also match any offer a team gives. In this scenario, when the Jazz receive the offer sheet the Hornets presented to Hayward, they will have 72 hours to decide whether to match the contract or allow him to become a member of the Hornets.
Since the Utah Jazz only have one significant contract, it would make the most sense for them to match the offer. Jazz forward, Derrick Favors, is the only player on the Jazz roster that is under a long term contract and paid a significant salary, and with Hayward being the one of the best players on the team, it’s likely the Jazz will match the offer.
The Jazz were likely just as shocked as fans were that Hayward would receive such a high offer, especially given the fact that there are other players on the market and Hayward’s game play has been inconsistent. The Jazz have also made it blatantly clear that they would match any offer given to Hayward.
Although Hayward is 6’8 with few weaknesses and has displayed some flashes of brilliance on the offensive end, he isn’t the type of player expected to be the main focus of a team’s offense. While Hayward’s play isnt exactly worth a deal near $15-$16 million a year yet, his potential as an all-around player and youth say differently. Plus, the Jazz have high hopes that Hayward’s shooting will improve under new head coach Quin Snyder.
If the Jazz decide not to match the offer — unlikely as that is — Hayward would fit well into the Hornets’ roster. Given his exceptional basketball IQ and ability to affect the game in different ways, he would serve as a complement to the talents of Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, who could possibly join with Hayward to form their own version of the “Big 3.”
By the end of the offered contract, Hayward will be 28 years old, with a salary of 16.7 million in the final year. Since Hayward is still a very young player, the Hornets would get their money’s worth out of the player, especially playing in the Eastern Conference. Hayward’s obvious struggles could be primarily blamed on playing in the tougher Western Conference, as the main, go-to guy on a young, not great team. If added to the Hornets’ roster, he would be the team’s third option, allowing him to focus on assisting the rest of the team, and scoring when needed.
The offer may seem like a lot for someone of his caliber — and it is — but Hayward is young with plenty of talent just waiting to be coached out. If the Jazz somehow don’t match the offer, the Hornets will potentially be an incredible team next season. If you have NBATV, which is carried by most major cable providers (details here), I’d recommend watching their updates to stay in tune with Hayward’s decision, and all the further free agent moves this offseason.
After all, chances are Hayward isn’t the only player that could cause some major talent shifts between teams.
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