Hayward, Jazz Extension Talks Stall
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
As the Thursday deadline for an extension nears, Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward has a lot to think about.
He’s in talks with the Jazz about a new deal, and it’s paramount that they secure his services considering he’s the anchor of this young core that also includes recently-extended forward Derrick Favors (he agreed to a four-year, $49 million deal on Oct. 18).
But as Hayward continues to showcase his under-appreciated skills during the preseason, and as it seems more apparent that his fanbase extends beyond the Jazz and to the league at large, the chance remains that he may not agree to an extension and will instead choose to be a highly sought-after restricted free agent next summer.
A person with knowledge of the talks said the two sides were not close to a deal as of Saturday afternoon, though that doesn’t mean one may not eventually get done. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.
For all the focus on the possible free agency of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, the 23-year-old Hayward could be the head of a younger class that – aside from James – could garner even more interest than some of the future Hall of Famers. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers unintentionally underscored that point on Tuesday, when he was asked about Hayward and replied by saying, “I have a man crush on that guy. He’s really good.”
But how good is he, and what will the cost be if the Jazz – who could match any offer that comes his way next summer – are going to avoid letting him get away? That much remains to be seen. Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George often comes up in the Hayward conversation for all the obvious reasons – Hayward was the ninth pick in the 2010 draft out of Butler, while George was 10th out of Fresno State, and both have excelled.