Utah Jazz set to match significant offers for Gordon Hayward, per sources
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz aren't expected to be big players in the upcoming free agency market, which officially opens up Monday at 10 p.m.
But they do have their sights set on two familiar faces.
Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams.
And Hayward, who earned $11 million in his first four NBA seasons, is about to get a huge pay raise.
The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.
Boston and Charlotte are two other teams that the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.
However, the Jazz plan on matching any offers for Hayward and intend to keep the versatile wing player in the organization as a major cornerstone in this rebuilding era, according to sources.
Utah extended a qualifying offer to Hayward last week, giving the team the right to match any offer sheets that he might receive.
Jazz management has made it clear since the season ended that it intends to keep Hayward in Utah for a long time. Moments after drafting Australian point guard Dante Exum and Duke forward Rodney Hood on Thursday, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey described the likelihood of Hayward returning to be "very, very strong."
Utah also hopes to re-sign the 6-foot-9 Williams, per sources. Williams played an appreciated role as a stretch-four forward last season and was considered to be a valuable asset and example in the locker room for a young Jazz team. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in his ninth NBA season.
Other than that, the Jazz aren't expected to make a big splash in free agency. Instead, the team intends to let the young core of Hayward, point guard Trey Burke, shooting guard Alec Burks, and bigs Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert continue to grow together with a few new acquisitions added into the mix.
One high priority Utah has, according to a team source, is a big man who can provide shooting and veteran experience. The 28-year-old Williams could fit that need, but he's also reportedly in demand elsewhere.
On draft night, Lindsey was asked to expound on the team's free-agency blueprint, and he seemed to indicate that the team wouldn't shy from reaching out to available top-tier players. While it's highly unlikely LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Dirk Nowitzki will land in Utah, the organization doesn't want to shut doors before at least presenting its case to the most appealing players.
"Our goal is to tell the Utah Jazz story and why this is a very attractive situation to free agents that we think could impact us the most," Lindsey said. "If we get a good audience, we’ll have a lot of money to spend on a high-impact player if that comes to fruition. If not, then we’ll look at different tiers and different roles."
Possibilities in the non-superstar tier include the likes of Detroit big man Greg Monroe, Houston forward Chandler Parsons, Washington forward Trevor Ariza, Lakers power forward Pau Gasol and Spurs forward Boris Diaw, among others.
One thing the Jazz have going for them is financial flexibility.
Even with Utah center Derrick Favors' four-year, $49 million kicking in this fall, the Jazz only have a guaranteed payroll of $32 million for eight players for the 2014-15 season. And that includes the rookie salaries of Exum ($3.6 million) and Hood ($1.3 million).
The salary cap for next season is expected to be about $63.2 million.
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