Give credit where credit is due: Michael Jordan has finally been making respectable moves as an NBA owner.
As The Charlotte Observer originally reported last night, Gordon Hayward has agreed to sign a max contract offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets for four years and $63 million. The Utah Jazz will officially be on the clock and have three days to match Charlotte’s offer as soon as Hayward signs it on Thursday at 12:01 a.m. (when the free agent moratorium is lifted).
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Hornets have included a player option on the fourth year of the contract and a 15 percent trade kicker in an attempt to prevent the Jazz from wanting to match their max offer. However, throughout free agency, the Utah Jazz have stayed firm on their stance that they will match any contract offered to Hayward.
Jazz prepared for possibility of max sheet for Hayward and remain unwavering about revelation it’s coming: They plan to match and keep him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
Last season with the Jazz, Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He only shot 30 percent from 3-point range, but at only 24 years old Hayward represents a young player on the rise whose two-way game is only starting to arrive.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns were also interested in Hayward, but more than likely held out for a chance at LeBron James first.
Although there are legitimate concerns about signing a player like Hayward to a max offer sheet, it’s hard to fault Jordan and the Hornets too much here. Charlotte needs scoring on the perimeter and is weakest on the wings.
With Josh McRoberts departing for the Miami Heat, the Hornets need help at the forward position. Unless Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh are ready to step up, the Hornets could use as much help from their small forward and power forward positions as possible.
Gordon Hayward is the big winner here: $63 million over 4 years, 15% trade kicker and player option after year four? He owes Michael Jordan. — Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 9, 2014
Hayward isn’t the only Utah player Charlotte’s interested in, however. The Hornets have also looked into signing Marvin Williams to temporarily fill the void at the 4 spot, although this Hayward news will probably put those talks on hold for the time being.
With Al Jefferson in the middle, Kemba Walker at the point and Vonleh and P.J. Hairston added to the roster, the Hornets are starting to look like one of the East’s more promising teams for the future.
However, Hornets fans probably shouldn’t get too excited about adding Hayward to the mix. The Jazz fully intend to match the offer, especially after Hayward was obviously their best player last season.
A max contract for Hayward sounds better for the Hornets than it does for the Jazz, but don’t expect too much drama on this front. Then again, at least Michael Jordan and the Hornets kind of got 2014 free agency started for the time being.
The Jazz have enough financial flexibility and room under the salary cap that overpaying Gordon Hayward isn’t a big concern for management.
— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 9, 2014