Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward after receiving max contract: ‘I don’t think I have to live up to anything now’

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Gordon Hayward signed a max offer sheet with the Hornets, and as expected, the Jazz matched.

In the first year alone of his new contract, Hayward will make more than he has in his entire career to date. This deal sets him up to lead a young Utah team through rebuilding and back to the playoffs.

A max contract, especially when two teams agree the player is worthy, comes with a lot of pressure – or at least it can.

Hayward isn’t feeling it.

Hayward, via Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune:

“For me, I don’t think I have to live up to anything now,” he said. “They paid me what they wanted to pay me, and let’s go from there.”

“Oh, man. No pressure now,” Hayward said of his own game. “The pressure is trying to win. That’s the pressure.”

At first blush, this seems wrong. The spotlight will be on Hayward like never before. As a young player on a team that never won a playoff game, Hayward had room to grow in relative anonymity.

Now, the spotlight will shine brighter, and critics will become less forgiving.

However, in the most direct sense, the pressure is off. Of the $62,965,420 Hayward is owed over the next four years, $62,965,420 is guaranteed. He can let his career crumble and still be set financially for life.

That isn’t pressure.

Now, the Jazz obviously hope Hayward remains motivated, and I think he will. His third contract could be even more lucrative if he does. And as he says, there’s a pride in trying to win.

But Hayward always had that. A max contract, for better or worse, doesn’t change anything in that regard.

Knicks allow John Wall to grab clutch rebound, score on break to ice game (VIDEO)

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The New York Knicks couldn’t get out of their own way on Thursday night, even with a historic performance from Carmelo Anthony. With the Washington Wizards in town, it was John Wall‘s finishing ability that pushed the Wiz over New York, 113-110.

The final 45 seconds were hectic, as Wall took the lead for Washington with just 32 seconds left after drawing a foul on Carmelo.

Down by 1, Anthony then missed a jumper with 18 seconds left and the Knicks allowed Wall to do this:

Wall would go on to steal the final possession from the Knicks, and the Wizards left MSG with a win.

Gregg Popovich gets ejected, standing O after screaming “You’re a terrible referee” (VIDEO)

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Gregg Popovich can be a fiesty dude, and sometimes he just wants to get his team pumped up. After news that Pau Gasol was going to be absent from the San Antonio Spurs’ lineup against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, perhaps this was his way of doing that?

Late in the second quarter in Denver, Popovich was seen arguing with a baseline official as play continued on. Pop was hit with an initial tech, and as the officiating crew walked away he blasted ’em with the best dad insult I’ve heard in a long time.

“You’re a terrible referee!”

GOT ‘EM:

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Mudiay was more than happy to assist with the second technical and ejection portion of Popovich’s tirade.

Long Live Pop.

Watch Kristaps Porzingis come out of nowhere on this putback dunk (VIDEO)

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Kristaps Porzingis is “The Unicorn” perhaps in part because of his high basketball awareness on the offensive end of the floor. On Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, the New York Knicks big man had an incredible putback dunk that surprised even his teammates.

Thanks to a missed Courtney Lee 3-pointer, Porzingis was able to fly in from beyond the arc to slam home two points.

Via Twitter:

Yeah, that’s crazy.

There’s putback dunks and then there’s flying in from beyond the 3-point line like this one. Wild.

Spurs big man Pau Gasol fractures finger during warmups, out indefinitely

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The San Antonio Spurs will have to make do without PF/C for a while Pau Gasol thanks to a recent fracture in his left ring finger.

That’s according to a press release from the team, who said Gasol fractured his fourth metacarpal — the bone that connects the ring finger down to the carpal bones in the wrist area — during warmups before a game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

No word yet from the team on recovery time, but estimates given similar recent NBA player injuries suggest anywhere from 4-8 weeks.

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward missed the first month of the season after fracturing his finger in early October. Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving missed around a month in 2012 with a similar injury.

Here’s hoping Gasol can make it back to the court quickly for the Spurs.