Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward has agreed to sign a max offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets for 4-years $63 million. Hayward is a restricted costless-agent, giving the Jazz the ability to match.
The Hornets front office spent Monday and Tuesday hosting Hayward and tried to coax him to Charlotte with "Welcome Gordon Hayward Family" messages on the marquee outside both Time Warner Cable Arena and video screens throughout the building.
Hayward has received interest from multiple teams as one of the young emerging stars at the small forward position. He’s a multi-skill player who averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season. At 6-foot-8, he has above-average height for his position, something Hornets coach Steve Clifford desires. He has also played three seasons in Utah with center Al Jefferson, the player through which the Hornets’ offense runs.
Signing Hayward to an offer sheet (Thursday at the earliest) could tie up most of the Hornets’ cap room for as much as three days with the Jazz having the option to match. Utah has a reported $30 million in cap space and Jazz officials have indicated they’d match any offer for Hayward. If Utah loses Hayward, it would mean seeing another star player exit Salt Lake. Along with Jefferson, the Jazz have also watched Paul Milsap and Daron Williams leave the organization.
Hornets owner Michael Jordan said at a charity event last month he hopes the team signs another “superstar” to complement the signing of Jefferson last season. Hayward is no superstar, but he would provide some things the Hornets lack.
It was evident against the Miami Heat in the playoffs that the Hornets sorely lacked a third option scoorer to go along with Kemba Walker and Jefferson. There's a good chance the Jazz will match, but the Hornets feel they have to take a chance with Gordon Hayward.