There’s no doubt the Utah Jazz are interesting in keeping Gordon Hayward on the team as he hits restricted free agency, but for what price? The Phoenix Suns would like to add the wing player, but they’re not quite sure what’s the price that will be just about right – not overpaying him, but still too high for the Utah Jazz to match.
Both teams have plenty of cap space going into next season. However, both teams have very different plans: The Suns are thinking big, maybe even the top two free agents in the market, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The Utah Jazz? With a new head coach and coming off an awful season, it seems that rebuilding and paving a smooth road towards a successful future without having to pay too much.
Hayward will be entering his fifth NBA season in 2014-2015. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season, although his per minute production and shooting percentages sharply dropped at maybe even an alarming rate. However, it might have something to do with just how little the Jazz had to offer offensively last season. A second-season Trey Burke and Dante Exum, not to mention any free agent that signs, should make things a little better for a franchise that seems to be still in slight shock from not having Jerry Sloan running things.
So how much is Hayward worth? There has been a rumor running around the Suns are going to offer Hayward something close to a max contract which will force the Jazz’ hands and maybe get them to sign him for an amount they don’t want to. However, it sounds a little bit risky and out there, knowing very well the Jazz are on of the franchises that fear the luxury tax more than almost any other in the NBA.
Hayward is a solid player – good defender and good shooter, although very inconsistent. But he’s not a max contract player, not even close. Any team that clogs their salary cap by paying Hayward more than $9-10 million a season is destined to find themselves in a very bad situation in the near future. Neither the Jazz or the Suns think that way, which is why an offer sheet for Hayward will include a lot less money, making it easier for the Jazz to match.