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The Downbeat #1191: The Greed Is Good Edition

In which we talk about Gordon Hayward. A lot. Including thoughts from Zach Lowe, Marc Stein, the SLC Dunk community, and more.

Maddie Meyer

There's not much more I can say about last night's loss to the Nets. I tweeted early on that I had a bad feeling about the matchup, and that was proved correct. So let's not dwell any further on it.

Instead, let's talk about what everyone is still talking about anyway: Gordon Hayward's impending restricted free agency. While our own Peter J. Novak has written a thorough summary of what the lack of an extension means for Hayward going forward, other national writers have begun chiming in.

(You know who I'm about to quote next.)

If Hayward jumps a level this season, the Jazz might well value him at something like $12 million per year. A rival team drooling over that jump in play might hit Hayward with the dreaded max offer sheet, but is Utah really going to let Hayward walk away over a $2 million valuation gap? The Jazz are about as flexible as it gets, flush with cap space even after extending Favors. They can afford to swallow hard and overpay.

[But] Hayward isn't there yet, and he's the kind of player who can get squeezed in free agency. Of the 19 guys who have received extensions in the last three years, all but five have been either big guys or point guards. That leaves five wing players — a cheapie (Pondexter), a budding star (George), a clear franchise guy (James Harden), DeMar DeRozan, and Danilo Gallinari. The Jazz might be betting Hayward's value comes in closer to the DeRozan/Gallinari/Jeff Green range — between $9 million and $11 million per season. If so, they made the right call letting Hayward walk in free agency, assuming he demanded more than that.

Zach Lowe's whole piece is highly recommended reading. He puts the Hayward negotiations in an interesting league-wide context.

The bottom line for me is that I really don't see Hayward getting that max deal from another team. If he does, it means he will have earned it with his play this season, in which case the Jazz can happily match. I think this is a rare case where -- as another famous Gordon once said -- greed is good for both sides.

On the other hand, ESPN's Marc Stein is convinced that Hayward will receive a max deal from some other team, and in that case, the Jazz were unwise not to lock down a contract before Halloween:

Contrary to some of the chatter out there, Hayward was not seeking the four-year max worth in excess of $60 million from Utah during the past month-plus of negotiations, but I'm convinced that's a legit possibility for him in the summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. There are too many Hayward fans in front offices around the league for the former Butler star not to cost the Jazz more later than a deal would have cost them now, given how many teams are projected to have cap space and knowing that the price tags on restricted free agents are always higher than they seemingly should be because the bidders are trying to dissuade the home team from matching.

...Utah, of course, will have plenty of its own cap space to match a max offer if necessary, but doing a deal with Derrick Favors when Hayward might be an even bigger part of Utah’s future ... struck me as curious to say the least.

What do you think? Do you side more with Lowe or Stein?

Just to add even more viewpoints on the issue, several of your FanPosts over the past week also discussed Hayward, his play, and his contract situation.

1234bbs says that the G-Time decision had less to do with his own value and more to do with next summer's draft:

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.

casey jazz man examines the possible market for Hayward next summer, and which teams could be interested:

What on earth do you do with all these names/teams? First, lets assume best case scenario for the Jazz. Lets assume that James, Melo, Deng, Pierce, Granger, Bynum and Greg Monroe switch teams. This leaves their previous teams still unable to have cap space to sign bigger free agents, while also taking away cap space from potential Hayward suitors. This would essentially eliminate six teams from the running, and leaves only 4 teams with a lot of cap space. This would REALLY water down the market and make life hard for all the remaining free agents, as there would be a lot more supply than demand when it comes to players.

Finally, Coco Dreamboat dissects the small sample size of Hayward's stats through the first three games:

I thought it would be fun to look at a few 2/3 players and their stats from the first couple games and see where Hayward stacks up. I'm gonna leave the names and identifying stats off though, I just want to let you see the level Hayward is playing at first, then reveal his fellow players.

Coco's got some solid tables in his (her? its?) post, so click through and check it out.

Back to Zach Lowe for a second. He made an appearance on the BS Report with Bill Simmons this week, and he shared a story about a question he asked Ty Corbin that did not go well.

Here's the link to the podcast; the Corbin story starts around 52 minutes in. If you don't have time to listen, @JazzBasketball1 has a transcript on his blog.

The short version: Lowe asked Corbin a very specific question about how the Jazz would be defending the pick-and-roll against different teams. Corbin snapped back that he didn't want to reveal his team's scouting report. It didn't end well.

I can understand Corbin's reluctance. He's got to be feeling a lot of pressure, despite the low expectations for this team as far as wins and losses. And I wouldn't blame him for having something of a grudge against Lowe, who hasn't been terribly complimentary to Ty in the past. (Although I rather doubt Ty is all that acquainted with Lowe's body of work.)

Anyway, this leads us to...

...Marc Stein's second prediction in the aforelinked blog post, which involves Coach Corbin rather specifically:

6. Jerry Sloan will replace Ty Corbin as coach of the Utah Jazz.

This might rank as the most extreme projection on our board, but I can't shake the nagging belief that Sloan really does want to coach in this league one more time. And no spot for a comeback makes more sense than the SLC, where the 71-year-old is back with the franchise in an advisory role that carries a near-daily presence ... and where Utah continues to run much of Sloan's offense.[...]

...Yet there's also little evidence to suggest that the Jazz regard Corbin as the long-term answer on their bench, so it really doesn’t strike me as a stretch to suggest that if we ever see Sloan back in the game -- for all the belief that he’d only come back at this point to coach a win-now squad -- Utah is where it's most likely to happen.

I keep seeing national types predict an early exit for Corbin, and I have to say, I just don't see it happening. The team doesn't expect him to win. The Jazz organization never fires anyone. He's in the last year of his contract anyway. If he's not the guy, fine...but that decision won't come until the season is over.

As for Sloan stepping back, I just don't know. He certainly seems like he wants to coach full-time again, if the rumors of his flirtations with Milwaukee and others are to be believed. And he'd of course be welcomed back by the organization and the fans in Utah. But I'm not sure. I sort of feel like, if he really wants a head coaching job, he'll take it somewhere else. I think he might feel too much responsibility here.

I dunno. What do you think?