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Jazz expected to match Hornets’ max contract offer to Gordon Hayward, which is absolutely the right decision

Jul 9, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

Gordon Hayward AP

The Hornets gave Gordon Hayward an offer sheet of a four-year max contract, and while nothing can be signed until the NBA’s free agency moratorium period ends on July 10, he has reportedly agreed to sign it when the time comes.

The Jazz have said all along that the plan was to match any offer Hayward received, and multiple reports confirmed this again once the news of the agreement between Hayward and Charlotte became publicly official.

The money being thrown at Hayward may seem excessive at first glance — $63 million guaranteed over four years, although the last year is a player option that may see Hayward choose to leave in free agency before Utah is officially on the hook for that final $16.7 million.

But should the Jazz match as expected, it’s absolutely the right decision.

It’s worth noting that just because we call all four- or five-year contracts “maximum,” that doesn’t mean that they’re all worth the same. They’re the maximum length allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, but the amount depends on how long a player has been in the league, and whether they re-sign with their current team or leave to go somewhere else.

Carmelo Anthony‘s four-year max, for example, should he leave the Knicks to sign with someone like the Lakers, is $97 million — far more than Hayward’s number of $63 million, which is necessary to point out to provide some perspective.

It’s still a lot for Hayward, but there’s a reason teams like the Hornets and the Jazz are willing to offer it — they simply don’t have a lot of other choices.

The next marquee free agent that voluntarily chooses to play for the Jazz will be the first. Star-level players never even consider Utah when free agency comes, so if the Jazz are fortunate enough to draft well, they need to overpay for that level of talent if they want to entice it to stay.

Restricted free agency is in place for precisely this reason, to give small market teams a chance to hang onto their rookies for up to seven seasons. That will be the case with Hayward, who has been in Utah for four years and can opt out after three more to pursue unrestricted free agency if that’s what he ultimately believes will be best.

Hayward isn’t quite an All-Star just yet, and didn’t improve as much as expected last season, despite getting a significant bump in minutes. Still, his averages of 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 36.4 minutes per contest show a more-than-solid overall game that’s worth waiting out.

As a comparison, those numbers (steals not included) were matched by only four other players in the league last season —  LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Michael Carter-Williams.

At his current level of production, and even with a small amount of projected improvement, Hayward might not be worth a max contract to teams more closely considered to be actual title contenders. But for markets like Charlotte and Utah, Hayward would be a fine signing at that amount — not only because of his acceptable relative level of talent, but also because of their somewhat limited options.

  1. loubearkane - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Is Trevor Ariza now a MAX player?

    2017 NBA Lockout

  2. primenumber19 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    If he wasn’t worth 13 mil a year to the jazz during the season he shouldn’t be worth more now. Basketball economics baffle me.

    • storminator16 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      He’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay him. If Hornets offer and Jazz matches, then two teams says you are wrong.

      • thewizkid89 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        There is a difference between basketball value, and market value. If there wasn’t then you would be correct .

      • storminator16 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Only value that matters is “how much money can I make after paying Utah or North Carolina state taxes?” Market value is whatever someone is willing to pay for the player and similar type players. I don’t know what the hell “basketball” value is. We buying $63 million worth of Wilsons? We bankrolling Castaway 2?

      • thewizkid89 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

        Basketball value is what he actually gives you on the court. Market value is dictated like any other valuation by supply vs demand. And since there is few players available of Hayward’s caliber, and lots of teams whom are flushed with cap space. Hayward’s market value is in nut opinion much higher than what you actually get, if you compare him to other 16million a year players.

        Making it borderline retarded to postulate that “he’s worth what someone is willing to pay”.

      • storminator16 - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        I see you’ve never negotiated your wages before. The the “worth what someone is willing to pay” may not be something you could understand.

  3. goraidersgospurs - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Soo a team like the jazz his to over pay as you say……fast forward two years later they are looking for a team to dump the players salary off on ala Josh Smith, Carlos boozer, Lin

  4. storminator16 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    If owners and GMs want these kind of offers to RFAs stop, do what hockey does: have the signing team compensate the losing team and have the compensation escalate the more the value of the contract is. Otherwise, everyone should just stop being jealous. The system is made for RFAs to cash in.

  5. cheeks9441 - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Derrick Favors wasn’t drafted by the Jazz.

    • pglive21 - Jul 10, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      He also wasn’t signed as a free agent (received in the trade for Deron Williams), so I’m not really sure where you’re going with this.

  6. bparmalee - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    The Hornets could have used their cap room to facilitate a deal like the Celtics did. The Celtics got Thornton, Zeller and a future 1st for nothing. Instead the Hornets are tying up their room for an average player they may not even get…. awesome. Being a small market team doesn’t mean you have to make terrible personnel decisions. Awful moves are still awful moves.

  7. jrh54824 - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    I don’t buy the logic that small market teams have to overpay, if anything they have to avoid overpaying more than large market teams. When is the last time that the Spurs overpaid for a player? Hayward is an underrated player, but nowhere near worth 16 million per season. I also don’t buy the notion that free agents would hesitate to come to Utah. Carlos Boozer once left Lebron to come to Utah.

    • zerole00 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      You can’t really compare the Spurs to other teams, they’re definitely held as a standard for other teams as far as organization goes but you can’t just say “draft well and have a good coach” and expect it to be done. The fact that the Spurs have such a long history of success helps players buy into the system, but for a franchise that’s trying to start fresh it’s easier said than done.

      Spurs executives have been poached in recent years though so they’re definitely trying, I hope they succeed too since the NBA’s more interesting when there are multiple teams competing instead of a handful (hello Eastern Conference).

      • jrh54824 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        The Spurs aren’t the only team to have success that way, the Thunder have as well as the mid 2000s Jazz. They were a very good team that was built through the draft.

    • azarkhan - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      It’s rare, but Richard Jefferson comes to mind.

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