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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.

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