The Utah Jazz are on the cusp of having to make some difficult decisions with their veterans--a tough thing to do right after you’ve had your best draft haul in years. But, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is a restricted free agent, meaning Utah can still match any offer that any NBA team submits to Hayward’s agent.
There’s still a chance that Hayward could receive a one-year max offer from another NBA team which the Jazz would be forced to match--meaning Hayward could be as good as gone before he’s even reached the apex of his career.
That the Jazz selected small forward Rodney Hood of Duke with the No. 23 pick at the 2014 NBA Draft is a signal the franchise knows the possibility exists that Hayward could leave via free agency.
Boston, Phoenix and Charlotte appear to be Hayward's top suitors--with Boston being potentially testy because coach Brad Stevens was also Hayward’s coach at Butler University, and Phoenix is the place where former Jazz legend and assistant coach Jeff Hornacek now plies his trade as Suns head coach. Charlotte is an up and coming team that has tons of cap room and a need for a small forward--not to mention former Jazzman Al Jefferson.
All three teams are probably going to make a serious run at Hayward before all is said and done. And if Hayward ends up with another team, what more can the Jazz do to help themselves during this free agency period that begins in less than 24 hours?
Or, what if power forward Marvin Williams departs as reported by several media outlets? Fear not, Jazz fans, for this writer has you covered. Here are your top five potential replacements for Hayward or Williams--if either or both were to leave via free agency.