SALT LAKE CITY — As expected, the Utah Jazz extended a qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward for the 2014-15 season.
The transaction ensures that Hayward will be a restricted free agent come July 1, a move that will allow Utah the first right of refusal on any offer that might come the small forward's way next month.
Although other teams very well could try to lure the versatile 6-8 wing away from Utah, Jazz management has made it clear that Hayward remains in the organization's long-term plans.
Most recently, Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin scoffed when asked if the team was looking for a possible replacement for Hayward in this draft.
“Nope,” Perrin said. “That doesn’t come into our thinking because we think we’re going to have Gordon with us next year.”
The recently married 24-year-old is coming off his best all-around season in Utah, having averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds in his first crack at being the go-to man in the NBA.
The former Butler star and the Jazz were not able to come to terms on a contract extension before the beginning of the 2013-14 season, but it's expected that will happen this offseason.
If Hayward doesn't get a new deal from Utah or another team, he's set to earn $4.7 million in his fifth season.