Yesterday was the deadline for NBA teams to agree to contract extensions with first round picks from the 2010 draft, and the Utah Jazz failed to come to an agreement with small forward Gordon Hayward, meaning that he will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Hayward is the face of the team and its most proven player, and he and Derrick Favors are the reason for optimism about the future in Utah.
Hayward wanted a deal that reflected both his status on the team and that paid him for the player both he and the Jazz expect he will become in the near future. However, the Jazz have chosen not give in to his demands for more money, and they will wait and see what happens after the season.
Despite the failure here, Jazz fans have no reason to worry, because Hayward isn’t going anywhere. He will likely receive several big offers, but the Jazz are going to have massive amounts of cap space after this season. They will likely match any offer that Hayward receives, keeping him in Utah for the foreseeable future.
Hayward is a very versatile player, and he will likely make significant improvements on his averages of 14.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 3.0 APG from last season. He is a better defender than he is given credit for, and he has a point guard’s skills in a forward’s body. Hayward has All-Star potential, and there is simply no way the Jazz are letting that walk out their door.
The Jazz are probably costing themselves some money here, because a big season from Hayward could land him a max offer from a team looking to accelerate its own rebuilding project. However, the Jazz have more than enough money to ensure that Hayward stays on their roster and continues to be the leader of their promising young nucleus. This is just part of the business of the NBA, and Jazz fans shouldn’t be at all worried.