Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward decided to pass on the team’s qualifying offer last year, throwing his 6-foot-8-inch body into the fire that is NBA free agency. As a restricted free agent, the 24-year-old Hayward stands to make bank--but there is a catch.
Does a team like Cleveland or Boston or even Phoenix throw enough millions of dollars at Hayward’s agent’s feet to make the Jazz blanch and let him go?
Cleveland hasn’t reportedly offered anything to Hayward--but according to several media sources the two parties are in talks as of Thursday, July 3--even if Hayward, an Indiana native, is not a huge fan of either Cleveland or Ohio.
It doesn’t really matter though. What matters is the color of the money--and if Cleveland or any other team offers to hand Hayward a pile of cash, he would be stupid not to take it and run. It’s happened before.
All Jazz fans need to do is remember the insane amounts of dinero that Paul Millsap or Wesley Matthews were offered to know that the best laid plans can sometimes go bad. In fact, they can go very bad.
After Millsap left the Jazz and Utah had passed on matching his max offer from Atlanta he became an All-Star and Matthews has enjoyed quite the run with the Portland Trail Blazers since Utah opted not to match his deal too.
But the Jazz have insisted on the record--which is quite weird for this super-secret organization to be honest--that they will match any and all offers for Hayward, even if another team offers Hayward a max deal. Have the Jazz learned from past mistakes to realize that Hayward may just be one season from breaking out and becoming an All-Star?
Which brings us to the teams who are reportedly interested in the former Butler star. Apparently, his 16-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist season has made him a second-tier free agent--just below the likes of LeBron, Carmelo and Pau.
While Hayward isn’t yet known by one name like the afore-mentioned stars--that’s LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol to those not in the know---he still is known enough for teams to offer him tens of millions of dollars in the next few weeks.
While it is unlikely that any NBA team will actually offer Hayward until the first tier of FA’s makes their decisions, it should happen sooner rather than later. Here are the five teams in contention for Hayward.