Gordon Hayward has developed into a solid wing player for the Utah Jazz, and has shown improvement in each of his last two seasons since entering the league in 2010.
Hayward will finish up the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal next season, which means he’s currently eligible for a contract extension — and the two sides are engaged in discussions to make it happen.
From Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star:
Hayward and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, are currently in talks with the Jazz to extend his contract this summer. If no deal is reached, he’ll become a restricted free agent next summer.
“It’s crazy that this is already going to be my fourth year and we’re already talking about that,” Hayward said. “But I’m definitely happy in Utah and love playing there and would love to continue my career there.”
Hayward would appear to be a perfect fit in Utah, given both his quality of play as well as the fan demographic in Salt Lake City. However, it’s unclear what the Jazz personnel plan is for the foreseeable future.
Utah let two talented players in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk this summer as unrestricted free agents, and did so without getting anything in return. It may have been by design, because getting worse in order to eventually get better is becoming a more and more popular strategy among NBA general managers.
But if they knew that was the plan all along, they could have dealt one or both players at last season’s trade deadline for future picks or young assets in return. That decision — or possibly indecision — makes it tough to predict how the front office will let the Hayward situation play out.
The Jazz have until October 31 to sign Hayward to an extension. But if the team doesn’t believe the dollars being requested are worth the asking price, then Utah can simply let the market dictate value next summer when they can match any contract offer Hayward receives as a restricted free agent.