Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — This round of negotiations between the Utah Jazz and shooting guard Gordon Hayward came to an unfulfilling conclusion Thursday night.
To be continued.
Come back in July 2014 to see what happens.
"Ultimately, we just couldn't reach a deal that both sides felt good about,” Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said moments before the 10 p.m. deadline. “That happens sometimes. No hard feelings at all. No one’s upset. This doesn’t change the way Gordon feels about the Jazz."
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey’s response to the sides failing to come to an agreement: “No comment.”
Rebuilding Utah was able to secure one cornerstone piece for the future of its franchise last month when it extended 22-year-old Derrick Favors’ contract through the 2017-18 campaign. The Jazz honored the power forward’s incentive-filled $47.7 million deal with a press conference Monday morning.
Now the earliest the organization can hold a similar love fest for Hayward, considered to be a leader, playmaker and key member of the Jazz’s youth movement, is next offseason.
If that even ends up happening.
Hayward will become a restricted free agent next summer, meaning the Jazz can match an offer from another suitor if they so desire. But the versatile 23-year-old will play his fourth year in the NBA without the peace of mind of a contract in hand past mid-April.
An interesting dilemma, considering the Jazz are looking to Hayward for increased leadership and overall production this season.
Hayward wasn’t available for a comment Thursday night, but the Indianapolis native expressed interest in continuing his career in Utah this week.
“I would love to be here,” Hayward said. “That would be great, especially playing with Fav and be a part of this franchise. It’s a great franchise. I would love that.”
On Thursday night, his agent said the Jazz player wanted to emphasize that he maintains a “tremendous sense of loyalty” to Utah, which drafted him ninth overall in the 2010 NBA draft.
Bartelstein even said Hayward wanted to thank Jazz management for the hard work both sides put in to try to make this work out.
“These deals are not easy to do. It was a great effort made by both sides,” Bartelstein said. “He (Hayward) couldn't feel better about Utah.”
Although Hayward has expressed interest in remaining in Utah long term and the Jazz are quite fond of the former Butler star, neither side could bridge the wide gap between offers.
Progress was made throughout the process, but not enough to satisfy either camp. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the impasse, claimed the sides “never came close on an extension” and that they remained “several million dollars apart” when calling talks off.
Hayward’s side was reportedly hoping to secure more than Favors’ salary but somewhere less than the $80 million maximum deal fellow 2010 draftee Paul George received this offseason.
Bartelstein declined to offer specifics.
"The easiest extension to get done,” he said, “is a max deal. We're talking about something different. It can be difficult."
Jazz CEO Greg Miller admitted earlier this week that the organization had hoped to wrap this up before the Oct. 31 deadline.
Now it will linger all season, with Hayward and the Jazz likely to be continually asked for future intentions.
“Gordon is a player who shows a lot of promise. I think we’ve seen a lot of growth and development with him over the last few years, and I’m very interested in keeping him as a member of the Utah Jazz,” Miller said Monday. “The sooner we can get all that worked out, the sooner it’s not going to be a distraction. I’m hoping that we can get that done sooner than later.”
Later it is. Or never.
Both sides took a risk in not settling this before next offseason.
A strong season by Hayward would increase his already high stock, making him an enticing target next summer. Teams with a lot of cap space could try to make a toxic offer and even throw more money at the athletic 6-foot-8 player than the Jazz had hoped to pay.
The opposite is also true.
A rough season or injury by Hayward could decrease his potential value, putting him at possible risk of receiving less than the Jazz offered this fall.
Bartelstein said the sides just decided to “take a pause” on the talks, which will resume next offseason.
“(Hayward) has been treated great from the coaching staff, the front office and the Millers,” the Jazz player’s agent added. “All that is positive. It’s not going to be anything but positive. Sometimes these deals are tough to get done.”
Favors made it clear he wants Hayward to be part of the franchise’s future with him.
“It’s very important (to sign him). Me and Gordon, we’ve been together for going on three years. We’ve been to the USA camp together, so we’ve got a good chemistry going,” Favors said. “With Enes (Kanter) and Alec (Burks) and all those guys, they’ve been wonderful teammates. It’s important to keep the young core together, so we can build the chemistry and move forward to the future.”
Earlier this week, the Jazz exercised team options to keep Kanter and Burks in Utah for their fourth seasons (2014-15).
Lindsey was asked at Favors’ press conference how the Jazz balance the desire to protect the team’s best interest and the feelings of the players during negotiating processes.
While admitting there are “always things said” while two sides work out deals, Lindsey added: “It’s amazing when you comport yourself the right way and when you have the truth on your side.”
For now, though, the Jazz only officially have Hayward on their side through the end of this season.
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