The Utah Jazz matched Charlotte’s maximum-level offer sheet for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Utah had said all along they would match any offer for Hayward and he’s likely to sign a four-year, $63 million deal some time today.
Only Utah could have offered more than the
Bobcats Hornets put on the table — as much as $84.8 million over five years — but were content to match whatever another team offered over the reduced four-year length.
Per Wojnarowski’s league sources, Hayward will sign the deal in Salt Lake City, UT some time today. The deal includes a player option on the fourth year and a 15 percent trade kicker, both of which were supposed to be make the Jazz think twice before matching. It didn’t work.
The 24-year-old Hayward struggled from the field during a 2013-14 season that saw him inherit the mantle of go-to player after the frontcourt scoring tandem of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap left in free agency last summer. Hayward shot only 41 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc, but did manage to average a career high 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 36.4 minutes a night.
The 6-8 former Butler standout showed some progress in his ball-handling later in the season after struggling with the increased attention from opposing defenses at the season’s outset. It’s still not clear if he’s a player capable of being the primary or even secondary offensive option on a playoff team, but he showed enough over his first four seasons Utah is willing to find out — they just wanted to wait and see what other teams thought he was worth before coming in to match, thus avoiding the five-year max offer they alone could have offered him.
Smart move by Utah to match?
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