Hayward gambles as deadline passes
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to NBA extensions, it’s a calculated risk any way you slice it. The only thing that changes is the side that’s rolling the dice.
So it was that the Utah Jazz and small forward Gordon Hayward couldn’t reach an agreement before the midnight ET deadline on Thursday night, and that similar situations played out in Phoenix (with point guard Eric Bledsoe) and Boston (with shooting guard Avery Bradley). With teams looking to land a more manageable deal now to lock up young talent for the long-term rather than possibly paying a higher premium later, these players who believe they can get bigger and better contracts as restricted free agents this summer were ultimately the ones taking the deliberate gamble.
As veteran agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and Entertainment explained it after months of talks with Jazz officials regarding Hayward didn’t pay off, it’s a tough task to pull off when both parties know that the now-or-never moment doesn’t happen until the offseason. The evidence supports that claim, as only six players from the draft class of 2010 signed extensions in the latest go-round: Indiana small forward Paul George, Milwaukee center Larry Sanders, Washington point guard John Wall, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, Utah forward Derrick Favors, and Memphis guard Quincy Pondexter.
“The most difficult deals to do are extensions — other than the max,” Bartelstein told USA TODAY Sports by phone just before the deadline passed. “When someone is offering you a max, then it’s easy. Those are easy. Other than that, they’re difficult because … there’s not a marketplace, so the teams sometimes have a view of wanting to get something for doing it early, and the player wants to get what he perceives his value to be, so they’re hard to do.”
As it pertains to Hayward, there were strong signs in the days leading up to the deadline that he was leaning toward taking the restricted free agency route. The Jazz were clearly hoping to secure Hayward after agreeing to terms with Favors on a four-year, $49 million deal, but they’ll now have the chance … [For more on Gordon Hayward gambles as extension deadline passes, click here.]