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Behind the Gordon Hayward No Deal

Most fans probably believe the lack of a Hayward extension was about either money or the Jazz wanting one more year to evaluate him. While both of those are logical reasons for not committing to a salary figure the Jazz were uncomfortable with, I see the 2014 draft as the driving force behind the lack of a deal.

My view is the player the Jazz get in the draft will have a major impact on what they are willing to pay Hayward. Right now if the Jazz have to pay him more than $12 million a year, I think money ball dictates the Jazz let him walk as long as they have drafted a big name that gets the fans excited.

The Jazz appear to be in a major money ball mindset right now, and they are likely to stay that way into the future. Why else would they have hired Dennis Lindsey? One reason behind the Favors deal was Favor's willingness to stay in Utah, and the Jazz knowing they couldn't replace both Favors and Hayward through the draft. Big men are hard to come by, and they are always expensive. The Jazz got a very good deal on the Favors' contract.

If the Jazz wind up with a draft pick that is below #5, Hayward's value goes up because the Jazz will want to keep the fan interest in the building process alive, and they have to show forward progress even without drafting a big name. If the Jazz get a draft pick in the first 4 slots, fans are going to believe the Jazz are finally going to get a player that can get them back to the finals. That gives the Jazz 4 years of inexpensive salary so they can resign Kanter and a couple of free agents. One of those free agents may very well turn out to be a point guard if Trey Burke can't cut it as a starter.

I suspect that the Jazz salary offer to Hayward was around $40 million for 4 years. But there is no way to know unless someone discloses it. Making a deal in NBA is complicated. All the players are different and have varying priorities. Agents are suppose to look out for the well being of the player, but negotiations are marketing campaigns for agents to sign new prospects or poach clients from other agents so for them big numbers matter, sometimes more than it does to the player.

Bartelstein isn't the only guy in the NBA that knows Hayward's value. The front office knows it also. Sure there is always a chance of a wild card Portland kind of offer sheet that throws everything out of kilter, but that doesn't happen that often. Salaries in the NBA aren't a mystery. Contract offers can make front offices look like idiots to fans and the media or like management wizards. How many fans wish the Jazz had paid Wesley Mathews what Portland offered, and conversely how many fans wish Larry Miller hadn't given AK a max deal?

So while I believe the Jazz know Hayward's market value very well, they may have offered less than they know they're going to have to pay because they want to see what they'll get in the draft before making a final offer. If Hayward had taken the Jazz deal, then the Jazz would have jumped on it because of the money ball strategy. Not only would it have given the Jazz a very good player at a very good price, it would have given them a major trade asset based not only on talent but on the cost.

Maybe there is something to the Jazz wanting to see how Hayward performs this year, but I think that's more of smoke screen than reality. The Jazz know who they have in GH. He's a good number 2 on a strong team, he's a great number 3 on a great team but he's not going to carry the Jazz to the promise land on his shoulders.

We probably won't know the real facts of what was on the table. If I had been Hayward and the Jazz were $8 million or less from my agent's number, then I would have taken the deal with a no trade, or trade only on approval, clause in the contract. After tax, agent fees and other expenses, the net money in Hayward's pocket would have been meaningless considering he'll earn $90 million or more over his career if he stays healthy. As a conservative guy who likes stability, a no trade clause would have been priceless. Being traded to multiple teams throughout a career is both expensive and unsettling. Being able to stay with a team long term is valuable.

Right now I would put the odds of Hayward not being with the Jazz in the 14/15 season at 3 to 1. The Jazz have a terrible track record when it comes to matching the salaries of RFA's. They've made many mistakes with that process in the past. Will this time be different? A lot is going to be riding on the draft for everyone, especially Hayward.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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