We certainly want him to continue here. There’s lots of good things happening here. There’s lots of momentum. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder, on Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY — If things pan out a certain way, Thursday could be a monumental day for Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz.
At some point Thursday, the All-NBA first, second and third teams will be announced by the league, and that could have big ramifications for Hayward and the Jazz.
If Hayward ends up being named to any of the All-NBA teams, as voted on by a media panel, the seventh-year small forward will become eligible to become a designated veteran player with the Jazz. That exception, which is part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, allows eligible players with one year remaining on their deals to sign a five-year extension worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap.
This would allow Hayward to make significantly more money with the Jazz than with any other possible suitor. If he opts out of the final year of his current four-year contract, the 27-year-old will be eligible to sign a max contract up to 30 percent of the salary cap.
The exception would allow Hayward to make about $180 million over five years from the Jazz compared to $132 million over four years with the Celtics or another team.
Even if Hayward doesn't make an All-NBA team — an honor that seems to be a longshot considering how many good forwards there are and how few spots are available — the Jazz will have the luxury of offering him a fifth year on a new deal if he opts out. Other teams will only be able to give him four years.
Players with seven to nine years of experience may also be eligible for the designated veteran player exception if they’re named defensive player of the year or MVP (or had been the previous season). Players who were on an All-NBA team or named MVP or DPOY in two of three previous seasons are also eligible.
If Hayward remains with the Jazz for whatever reason and doesn't opt out, he’s set to earn $16.7 million next season after signing a four-year, $63 million deal with Utah three years ago.
If he opts out of his final year, the first-time All-Star will become an unrestricted free agent.
Hayward said he didn’t think about his impending free agency situation during the season, and told reporters at the exit interviews last week that he will spend time with family relaxing before making a decision. He didn’t indicate which way he was leaning after helping lead the Jazz to a 51-win season, the Northwest Division title and the second round of the playoffs after not making a postseason appearance in five years.
“I honestly haven’t thought about it,” Hayward said.
“For me,” Gobert said, “I don’t want to see him leave because he’s a big part of what we’ve been building.”
Bringing Hayward back is certainly the Jazz’s top offseason priority. The organization sees the versatile small forward and center Rudy Gobert as being a formidable foundation for the future.
“We certainly want him to continue here,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Hayward the day after the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. “There’s lots of good things happening here. There’s lots of momentum.”
Point guard George Hill will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he’s hoping it works out so that he and Hayward can remain teammates in Utah for much longer.
“He’s like my little brother now. We’ve had plenty of talks of what’s going on,” Hill said. “His heart is here in Utah. This is where he’s been his whole career. I’m sure Utah has the first hammer for him. That’s definitely going to weigh on me (and my decision).”
SUMMER LEAGUE: The Jazz announced that their annual Utah Jazz Summer League will take place on July 3, 5 and 6 at the Huntsman Center because Vivint Arena is undergoing a $125 million renovation.
Tickets, beginning at $8 for a one-day pass and $15 for a three-day pass, are now available for purchase at utahjazz.com or by calling 801-581-UTIX.
The Jazz’s summer league will feature teams that have two of the top three draft picks, with Boston (No. 1) and Philadelphia (No. 3). San Antonio and Utah round out the four-team field.
July 3: Boston vs. Philadelphia (5 p.m.); San Antonio vs. Utah (7 p.m.)
July 4: No games
July 5: Boston vs. San Antonio (5 p.m.); Philadelphia vs. Utah (7 p.m.)
July 6: Philadelphia vs. San Antonio (5 p.m.); Boston vs. Utah (7 p.m.)
The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas then runs from July 7-17.