Report: Cavaliers, wary of Jazz matching, reluctant to offer Gordon Hayward max contract

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The Cavaliers are considering signing Gordon Hayward to a max-contract offer sheet.

The Jazz would get three days to match what projects to be a four-year, $63,011,880 contract. They’ve threatened to match any offer for Hayward, and that has Cleveland concerned.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is how the process works.

Now, the Cavaliers engage Utah about a sign-and-trade.

The Jazz might be amenable, because Hayward on a max contract is not a fantastic asset. Sure, he would still hold value – which is why Utah would probably match – but not as much as on the smaller contract the Jazz offered in the fall. If Cleveland offered enough in a sign-and-trade, that might change the equation toward Utah parting with Hayward.

The Cavaliers must also weight what assets they’d part with to ensure Hayward joins them.

If the teams reach an impasse, Cleveland then must decide about offering a max contract to Hayward anyway. Maybe, the Jazz are bluffing and wouldn’t match. At minimum, the Cavaliers must count on Utah taking three days – leaving Cleveland in a bind with Hayward absorbing so much cap room – before deciding.

The burden for the Cavaliers specifically could be even greater.

To create max room below the projected salary cap, Cleveland would need to waive Anderson Varejao, whose 2014-15 salary is guaranteed for just $4 million of $9,704,545. Varejao is still a productive player who could be valuable on the court to the Cavaliers or another team – or in a trade for a team intent on trimming salary.

By just waiving the fully unguaranteed contracts of Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers would come close to creating enough room for Hayward’s max, though. If the cap is a little higher than projected the projected $63.2 million – at least $64,196,487 to be exact – they could offer Hayward the max without waiving Varejao.

The exact cap will be set before it’s possible to sign Hayward to an official offer sheet, so the Cavaliers know what they’re getting into. But if they waive Varejao and Utah matches, they’d lose both players.

Meanwhile, the Jazz hope Cleveland just moves along to other targets. That way, Utah has a better chance of keeping Hayward for less than the max. It’s the whole point of the Jazz’s threats to match.

However, Utah will face other threats from  the Suns and Celtics.

Any team could offer Hayward a max offer sheet just to ensure the Jazz must pay him a high amount, limiting Utah’s ability to sign other players in the future. The downside is only the team that signs Hayward will have its cap tied up for three days, and the upside helps every team in the NBA outside the Jazz. It’s a free-rider problem.

At this point, the dalliance between the Cavs, Jazz and Hayward – and maybe Suns and Celtics – becomes an elaborate game of bluffing and posturing.