Late last night the Charlotte Hornets announced through beat writer leaks that they were going to offer Utah Jazz restricted free agent Gordon Hayward a pretty big deal. Yahoo! Sports' Woj confirmed the story and filled in the salary details. It's a 4 year deal, worth around $63 million dollars. It's, as the kids call it, a max deal. And before we go any farther we need to go back to what the Jazz have said all along, they are going to match whatever offer Hayward gets on the open market. He's a restricted free agent, and they followed the normal protocol to be able to match. And as the DN's Jody Genessy points out --
The Jazz will match this offer:
Gordon Hayward agreeing to a max deal w/ Hornets is a "non-issue for the Jazz," per a person with knowledge of situation. Utah will match.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 9, 2014
There was a reason why Jazz made their first call of free-agency period to Gordon Hayward. They value him. Plan has always been to keep him.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 9, 2014
And I believe that is precisely what the Jazz are going to do. And while Gordon Hayward may not have been in love with everything the organization has done, he's still holding a two day basketball camp in Utah on the 10th and 11th of this month. He's going to be here, and the rumors suggest that this was somewhat planned and that the Jazz will announce that they will match.
I expect nothing less of the organization. And had expected that they would match any offer all summer long. I did post hypothetical piece yesterday about the possibility of life after Hayward, but I couldn't even list five things to be positive about. The main reason for that piece was to look at what life would be like without him, and to provide some content to the readers here. You come here on your own free will to be entertained. I'm not doing that if there's no new content.
Well, back to Gordon. The Jazz SHOULD match. Sure, he's not worth the max when we think about our own idea of what a max player should be, but the changing finances in the NBA and the unrivaled income the league generates now should facilitate changing our idea of what a max contract is. Hayward is a max contract, not a max player. And in order to fill up your roster you're just going to need those guys now as the salary cap increases over time. Furthermore, if there is a guy you want who is making a lot of money -- it's easier to trade for that guy while keeping some of your lower paid assets IF you have a max contract to offer in the other direction too. (Yes, Hayward has a 15% trade kicker, but still...)
The old economics is out, and the new economics is in.
Updated Jazz Cap Space:
And I had to update my tables a bit according to the new data presented by Nate Duncan, of Basketball-Insiders.com fame.
So with everyone in place, including the rookies, the Jazz are spending only $50.3 million on the books. That's only 79.5% of the estimated 2014-15 Salary Cap of $63.2 million. And depending on how much the Jazz want to spend (minimum is 90% of the cap), they will have $6.2 to $12.9 million left to play with. All of this is explained in much greater detail in my post here, the only difference is that we've replaced Gordon's Max contract from the Jazz with the one the Hornets actually offered.
The TL;DR point here is that the Jazz can afford this, no problem. There are three more roster spots left to fill, and you almost figure that one of them will either go to Malcolm Thomas ($945,163) or Ian Clark ($816,482). And that means the Jazz will then have (if they take the higher contract, Thomas) between $5.7 m and $11.9 m to divide between two players. They'll have more if they take Clark. That is going to be enough to get us to both the cap minimums and roster minimums for next season.
Does Matching Make Sense:
It certainly does, even if it's just to safe face for saying that you'd match all free agency period long. Hayward is not a master at any one part of his game, but he is really a jack of all trades. He can do it all, he's the master of the triple couple (post on this coming tomorrow after I get some sleep). The Utah Jazz have to pay extra to keep their guys around. Part of that sucks and is a product of being a small market team. Another factor that we cannot forget is that with the cap rising it's absolutely something the Jazz can afford to do. They managed their cap well, maintained flexibility, and planned for this.
It's not just by accident that they have money freed up to pay their young studs (Derrick Favors , Gordon Hayward, and hopefully Enes Kanter and Alec Burks too) right now. They have enough saved up to also be able to pay one of Trey Burke or Dante Exum a lot of money too. (More if Utah doesn't keep both Kanter and Burks). Similarly, it's almost as if this entire process was planned.
Hayward has media availability at his basketball camp on Thursday, the day he can sign offers.
Does this not make sense in any way:
It's a lot of money, but you have to pay the guy. He's the only member of the C4 to play 2,000 minutes per season (on average), and losing him would be losing so much invested capital (minutes). Dude played 2,8000 minutes last season alone. That's almost more than all of John Lucas III 's entire career. Hold on, I just checked. Lucas has only played in 2644 regular season minutes, so it IS more than his entire NBA career.
The only way this does not make any sense is if the Jazz have Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins on their team. They do not. They do have Rodney Hood. But he's not someone at risk of being upset if he's not playing 30+ mpg.
What about the alternative, not matching and then using up this money in some other way? I don't think you're going to find a single player 'worth it' who will sign an offer sheet here. Furthermore, while the Jazz have money -- spending it on a B+ player is better than spending it on a C+, C, and D- player for about the same price.
I think the Jazz match. They said they would. And a beat writer who covers the team and JUST TALKED TO EXES THERE was once again told that they would. So they will.
Ultimately, I believe in Gordon Hayward. And I am confident that the Jazz will do the smart thing and bring him back. It is an exciting time for Jazz basketball.