NBA Free Agency 2014 Rumors: Gordon Hayward reported to be high on Phoenix Suns list

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Word has it that Gordon Hayward is loved by more than just Utah Jazz fans . . .

Last season Utah let Al Jefferson (All-NBA 3rd team 2014), Paul Millsap (East All-Star 2014), Mo Williams (rotation player on playoff team), and Randy Foye (a dude) all walk. This season the franchise hopes to retain one of their players in Gordon Hayward. The Utah Jazz did not reach an agreement with Gordon Hayward before the deadline last season (if I remember correctly, October 31st, 2013), and as a direct consequence, the former NBA Draft lottery pick is going to enter NBA Free Agency for the first time of his carer. Albeit, restricted free agency.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reports that the Utah Jazz, who have a lot of cap space, are set to match significant offers for the wingman.

The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.

Boston and Charlotte are two other teams that the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.

However, the Jazz plan on matching any offers for Hayward and intend to keep the versatile wing player in the organization as a major cornerstone in this rebuilding era, according to sources.

Utah extended a qualifying offer to Hayward last week, giving the team the right to match any offer sheets that he might receive.

Jazz management has made it clear since the season ended that it intends to keep Hayward in Utah for a long time. Moments after drafting Australian point guard Dante Exum and Duke forward Rodney Hood on Thursday, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey described the likelihood of Hayward returning to be "very, very strong."

- Jody Genessy, Deseret News, 2014

Yeah, ESPN, HoopsHype and other places have picked up on the rumor as well.

Tony Jones, of the Salt Lake Tribune tweeted out:


So, despite the fact that Gordon is sought after by the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and Charlotte Hornets, the Jazz still retain the majority of control in this situation.

Why this makes sense:

A team like the Boston Celtics would obviously be interested in Hayward as a playmaker and it would reunite Hayward with former NCAA head coach Brad Stevens. The Hornets need shooting and Hayward's better years from downtown happened as a result of being open, on the floor with Al Jefferson. Big Al is the straw that stirs the drink on the court there. (Do they call it the Hive still?) Phoenix, well, we don't need to look any farther than their head coach Jeff Hornacek -- the mutual admiration between Hayward and Horny is well documented. Hayward would thrive in that system and be totally at home sharing the ball with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.

What about the Jazz? In short the need for Hayward is probably more here than anywhere else. Furthermore, the Jazz have the money to match, and most likely will. The above three teams have money to spend, but not as much as Utah does.

All-around handsome man, and SLC Dunk financial / cap / salary expert Peter J Novak  had this to tweet over the weekend:

The larger number wins, most of the time.

Why this doesn't make sense:

Just because a team can offer Hayward a lot of money doesn't mean they should. With a larger role and greater defensive pressure Hayward's game struggled at times. As a beneficiary in his first three seasons his shooting was promising. However, in a contract year where he had to create his own shot his percentages plummeted. His defense and playmaking ability allow Hayward to be called a true "All-Around" player; but he does not excel in any one aspect of the game. A player who is going to be paid 'bank' should be great at something. Or at least, you know, be an All-Star. Hayward does not have the on court performance to justify a huge raise, which some suggest could be closer to a max deal than any of us would dare even joke about. Furthermore, there's the whole Andrei Kirilenko / Matt Harpring history to factor in.

Greg Miller, the CEO of the Utah Jazz (and eldest son of the owner) seems to hold grudges. The Jazz probably over paid (in hindsight) for Andrei Kirilenko; and definitely overpaid for Matt Harpring when the two popular forwards entered free agency. When he was AK-47 that made sense, but injuries made the contract an albatross. As for Harpring, his production never was the same again, and the team ended up trading him away along with promising rookie point guard Eric Maynor in a salary dump. The Jazz would wish to avoid making the same mistake a third time in a row. If the deal is too high it is possible that they don't match -- and finally learn from their own free agent history.

Likelihood:

Right now I think that it's a 8.5 / 10 lock that the Jazz will match an offer made for Gordon Hayward, and he will return to the Utah Jazz a much wealthier young man.

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