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Gordon Hayward after receiving max contract: ‘I don’t think I have to live up to anything now’

Jul 30, 2014, 9:18 AM EDT

Gordon Hayward Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward signed a max offer sheet with the Hornets, and as expected, the Jazz matched.

In the first year alone of his new contract, Hayward will make more than he has in his entire career to date. This deal sets him up to lead a young Utah team through rebuilding and back to the playoffs.

A max contract, especially when two teams agree the player is worthy, comes with a lot of pressure – or at least it can.

Hayward isn’t feeling it.

Hayward, via Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune:

“For me, I don’t think I have to live up to anything now,” he said. “They paid me what they wanted to pay me, and let’s go from there.”

“Oh, man. No pressure now,” Hayward said of his own game. “The pressure is trying to win. That’s the pressure.”

At first blush, this seems wrong. The spotlight will be on Hayward like never before. As a young player on a team that never won a playoff game, Hayward had room to grow in relative anonymity.

Now, the spotlight will shine brighter, and critics will become less forgiving.

However, in the most direct sense, the pressure is off. Of the $62,965,420 Hayward is owed over the next four years, $62,965,420 is guaranteed. He can let his career crumble and still be set financially for life.

That isn’t pressure.

Now, the Jazz obviously hope Hayward remains motivated, and I think he will. His third contract could be even more lucrative if he does. And as he says, there’s a pride in trying to win.

But Hayward always had that. A max contract, for better or worse, doesn’t change anything in that regard.

  1. gmkev - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Heyward is right. He was a guy from a mid major, who carried his team to two NCAA championship games, was selected in the NBA lottery, and has performed at a high level during his career in the NBA has earned it. People have been questioning him his whole life about wether he was good enough for the NBA. Well the Jazz think so and thats good enough for Gordon.

    • bkbell3 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      Shot 40% from the field last year and 30% from the 3. Overpaid by more than half

      • micknangold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        You pay guys for what you project they’ll do, not what they’ve already done. Obviously the Jazz are expecting him to improve.

      • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        If they’re projecting MAX performance from him, Lindsey needs to be fired. This was the first year that they put the scoring load on his shoulders, and he slumped badly. Normally, when the usage goes up and the numbers go down, it’s an indication that you’re talking about a support player who can’t carry the load.

      • bkbell3 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        Spurs, yea i hear you, but really good players esp. max players don’t fall off that much. He went from 48%-45%-43%-40% in his first 4 years and his 3p% started at 47% and followed the same path to 30% last year. His contract is a product of to bad teams in not so desirable locations bidding for a guy and distorting his value to keep or steal away a free agent. He is young so who knows if he will turn it around and improve but he should be no more that 7-9 mil based on promise alone not his numbers.

      • micknangold - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        I’m not saying I expect him to improve. honestly, I’ve heardly seen him play since college. I’m just saying the Jazz must expect him to improve, and paid him accordingly.

      • tsbona - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        ALTERNATIVE: Get nothing & let him go to the Hornets.

        You weren’t getting LeBron or Melo to come to Utah so where would you have spent the money?

        Need to fill the stands somehow.

    • micknangold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      He only played in the first NCAA Championship game.

    • andreboy1 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Pretty sure he left after the first NCAA championship game

  2. csbanter - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Hayward would have a hard time selling this line of thinking in NY,Chicago,LA,Boston,Philly getting a max deal comes exit expectations. Max deals are and championship aspirations go hand and hand. Its different in Utah they only play for playoff appearance consistency.

    • zerole00 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      What? He doesn’t have to sell anything. The money’s fully guaranteed, other than the media whining about it – he doesn’t have to do anything.

  3. scoochpooch - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Gordon Hayward after receiving max contract: “I love stealing.”

    • blogsk3tball - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      Sounds EXACTLY like Rashaard Lewis after his Magic Deal

  4. csbanter - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    comes with expectations typo sorry.

  5. scoochpooch - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Gordon Hayward after receiving max contract: “I love stealing.”
    So true.

  6. bucrightoff - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    His average salary for the next 4 years (15.75m) is higher than his career PPG (12.0). He has no one to apologize to for taking the contract, no doubt there, but thinking he has nothing to live up to is pretty naive.

    • dacapt704 - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Exactly…thats like saying “I’m the highest paid employee at my company but I can still work like a customer service rep” yeah ok…

      Comments like that are why he won’t achieve that next level…he puts no expectations or pressure on himself to perform. Can’t just be ho-hum with that kinda paper…oh wait, Bargnani, Stoudemire, Boozer– I forgot, the NBA is filled with overpaid yet average players *delete comment*

  7. lastdukestreetking - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Fair enough to argue the merits of Hayward’s max contract. But what is he stealing?

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:32 AM


      I guess if I came to his house and he GAVE me things to take with me when I left, I’d be stealing from him, at least according to him.

  8. loubearkane - Jul 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Hayward – four years, $62,965,420
    Stephenson – 3 years $27M +/-

    If the Hornets are successful they have to thank Utah

    • therealhtj - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Charlotte definitely got the better value. Neither is a championship contender.

      If Exum develops into a star, Utah could have a bright future. They’d still need one more piece, so expect another tank fest from them this season too.

  9. football58 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Did Hayward ever make an All-Star team? This is why teams like Utah are going to be stuck in quicksand for the foreseeable future because they overpay for talent that is not even at All-Star level. Hayward is not a game changer, he is not someone that fans look up on the schedule and go I gotta really see Utah because they have Hayward.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      all your points are correct

      why are they correct?

      they have to overpay because the young millionaire NBA players do not WANT to go to Salt Lake City to play.

      the lily white, boring, conservative, no big city like L.A., Chicago, NYC, Miami, no warm weather etc… doesn’t appeal to the majority of the young rich African American NBA ballplayers.

      So yes, they DID overpay for Heyward. Had they NOT overpaid and he left and signed with the other team, WHO was going to go to Salt Lake?

      They would have just overpaid some other player as that’s what it takes.

      • redbaronx - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        @sportsfan18 – This idea that Utah had to overpay because no one would go there is COMPLETELY erroneous. Utah should have traded him away for draft picks. The fan base in Utah isn’t going anywhere. They love the Jazz no matter what. The Jazz can afford to suck for a while without a marquee player and reload via the draft.

        Granted not everyone wants to go to Utah and they do have more than their share of white players. But remember they’ve also had plenty of black player too. Carlos Boozer isn’t black, but he’s not white either. And he WENT THERE via Free Agency from the Cavs. They’ve had other guys too like Karl Malone, Bryon Russell and others. Historically part of the problem was Sloan. Great coach, but you had to be a special player with work ethic to play for him. Just like Tibbs in Chicago.

        Paying Hayward a max contract is the first real signing mistake I’ve seen Utah make. Ever! Only parallel I can think of is Greg Ostertag, and Greg was at least a serviceable center and wasn’t paid that much in any case.

      • urodaddy07 - Jul 31, 2014 at 12:47 AM

        Also remember the CBA dictates that they have to get to a minimum level of salaries. I think 58mil or something. They have to pay somebody. Melo and Lebron are not coming through the door

    • duhwighthoward - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Who cares if he is an all-star? That’s just based on voting by ignorant fans.

      Every year there are guys on the all-star team who make you scratch your head. And then there are guys who hardly ever or never make it who are among the best players in the league.

      ps I agree with your point, just not the criteria. Okay? not trying to diss.

      • savvybynature - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        I agree, All-Star selections are a complete sham.
        I hate when people reference them as if they’re meaningful, when they are decided mostly by teenagers and foreigners who see more commercials and advertisements with players in them than actual games.

  10. unclemosesgreen - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    It’s pronounced gor-DON

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Well, if it wasn’t before, it certainly is now…

  11. blogsk3tball - Jul 30, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    Haywards numbers are almost identical to Turners in Philly

    Both were on teams that sucked – One got the Max, One got the Minimum.

    I’d prefer Hayward at the same price tag as Turner, but what’s the 59 Million dollar difference

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