The Utah Jazz were unable to agree on an extension with Gordon Hayward coming into the 2013-14 NBA season, meaning Hayward is now a restricted free agent. Hayward has developed into a highly underrated and versatile two-way player that many have speculated could get a max offer sheet from some team this summer in free agency. The question that everyone wanted answered was whether or not Utah would match a substantial offer.
On Wednesday afternoon as Hayward met with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it seemed as if the Cavs were going to be that team to give Hayward that max offer. However, the rest of the day came and went and there was no offer sheet on the table. It wasn’t for a lack of desire to land Hayward on Cleveland’s part, but something else that kept the offer sheet in the Cavs’ pockets.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, the Cavaliers are hesitant to extend an offer to Hayward in fear that the Jazz will match any offer given to the 24-year-old wing. Considering the number of teams that could use and are likely after a player of Hayward’s talents, the fact that an offer sheet isn’t on the table from the Cavs or anyone else seems to further indicate that.
There are reports from Jody Genessy of the Deseret News that the Phoenix Suns could extend Hayward a max offer sheet. However, that hasn’t come to fruition either. It’s looking more and more like Hayward’s only offer could come from the Jazz themselves, which is good news for Utah.
Last summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves were faced with the task of retaining then restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. Given the production and potential of Pekovic, though, the Timberwolves seemed set to match any offer given to the center. Despite some teams reportedly considering max offer sheets for Pekovic at the time, the Wolves were ultimately able to re-sign him to a five-year, $60 million deal. Though $12 million per year is a hefty payday, Minnesota actually escaped with a bargain considering the money that could have been thrown at Pek.
The Hayward situation is starting to sound quite similar to the Pekovic ordeal last summer. There is definite interest around the league, but no teams are biting because the Jazz seem set on matching any offer. In an ideal scenario for Utah, the result will be the same as it was for Minnesota in that they will retain their guy while also being able to save some money in the process. NBA Free Agency is still young, but this is the early shape things are taking regarding Hayward.