Gordon Hayward is one of the very enticing second tier free agents on the market this summer, though his restricted status means that the Jazz can (and likely will) match any offer he may receive.
Nevertheless, teams will come calling to force Utah’s hand in that regard, and the Phoenix Suns, who are loaded with cap space and are looking to add some proven star-level talent to a team that won 47 games last season, may be first in line.
From Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:
The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.
Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz are expecting to throw large offers at Hayward.
However, the Jazz plan on matching any offers for Hayward and intend to keep the versatile wing player in the organization as a major cornerstone in this rebuilding era, according to sources.
Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek was an assistant coach in Utah for Hayward’s first three seasons, so that connection, along with Hayward’s productivity, makes him an intriguing prospect for Phoenix to pursue.
All of this is moot, of course, should Utah stick to its word and match any offer Hayward may receive. But a team like Phoenix can, if nothing else, force the Jazz to overpay a bit to retain their star player.