The Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward and the Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe did not get new deals before the Oct. 31 deadline passed and will become restricted free agents in July.
Not striking a deal is risky for both Utah and Phoenix as both Bledsoe and Hayward could attract lucrative four-year offer sheets from other teams that will be more expensive to match than striking a deal would have been now.
Hayward, according to sources, wasn’t seeking a four-year max deal but did push for a deal commensurate with his standing with the team during their rebuilding effort. The The Jazz apparently needed more evidence to be sure Hayward can produce on a high level.
Hayward, 6-8 small forward, is extremely versatile and is an excellent shooter. He scored 12 points, on 4-of-13 shooting including 2-of-6 from the three-point line, had four rebounds and five assists in the Jazz’s opening game loss versus Oklahoma City. He averaged 11.8 points on 45.6 percent shooting last year and averages 10.4 points a game for his career.
First-round picks from the 2010 NBA draft had until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, to score an extension or proceed to restricted free agency. The Class of 2010 wound up receiving just six extensions combined, headlined by five-year max deals received by Washington’s John Wall and Indiana’s Paul George. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins received a four-year max deal worth $60 million. Utah’s Derrick Favors Milwaukee's Larry Sanders and Memphis' Quincy Pondexter also received four-year extensions though not for the max value.
Bledsoe is a speedy point guard who can drive to the hoop and also find the open man, was reportedly seeking around $10 million a year. Bledsoe, 23, has shown a lot of potential however Phoenix wanted to see how he fares in his first opportunity to really run a team before making a long-term commitment.
Bledsoe, who averages 6.8 points a game in 19.7 minutes of action for his career, scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor in the Suns opening victory versus Portland. He also grabbed seven rebounds and six assists.
Some of the other top restricted free agents in 2014 will be Detroit’s Greg Monroe, Memphis’ Ed Davis, Boston’s Avery Bradley, Sacramento’s Greivis Vasquez, Philadelphia’s Evan Turner and Houston’s Greg Smith.