A couple years ago, the Jazz were one of the youngest teams of all-time.
Now, they’re ready to blossom.
Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are forces inside. Gordon Hayward has become a near-All-Star. Rodney Hood has quietly developed into one of the NBA’s most intriguing players. Dante Exum returns from injury, and Alec Burks and Trey Lyles have shown promise while already contributing. George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson are veteran reinforcements.
It’s all there — for now.
Hayward threatens to be tricky.
There were rumors around the draft that Hayward would welcome a trade, but Jazz sources downplayed any reported unhappiness. Still, there is a real risk that Hayward could walk next July.
Jazz sources said it’s highly unlikely the team even considers a trade for Hayward
The Jazz can downplay Hayward’s unhappiness when talking to reporters or teams trying to poach him. But they’ve got to be honest with themselves, especially because Hayward can — and almost certainly will — opt out next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.
Hayward is just 26 and already extremely productive. With teams playing smaller, there’s a shortage of quality wings. He’ll have multiple great — probably max — offers.
Remember, Hayward has never picked the Jazz. They drafted him in 2010. As a restricted free agent in 2014, he signed an offer sheet with the Hornets that Utah matched.
The Jazz are positioned to make noise this season. Trading Hayward could interrupt a rewarding year. But losing him for nothing this summer could disrupt several seasons of success.
There’s a lot to weigh as Utah determines whether this stance is just posturing or one the team will hold.