The playoffs are all but out of the picture, but Gordon Hayward isn’t worried about his team losing its focus after the All-Star break.
There’s still too much to play for.
“We’re trying to get better as individuals, as a team,” he said. “For a lot of us, it’s a contract year. Guys are not only playing for us, but because it’s a business, they’re playing for everybody else.”
Count Hayward among them. The fourth-year swingman will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season and figures to see a significant raise come July, when the Jazz will have a chance to sign him or a match another offer.
“I don’t really think about it directly, about the contract,” he said, but added, “I think about going out there and trying to prove my value in the league.”
So how much might Hayward stand to make?
Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told 1280 AM this week he thinks it will be more than Hayward is worth.
“There are a lot of people out there that seemed to think this guy was going to go for near max money,” Van Gundy told the Salt Lake City radio station. “I don’t see that, myself. I think he’s a very good player, very athletic, can do a lot of things. But I think the way the game is going, a perimeter guy who is not a good shooter, not a real good shooter, I think that limits his value in today’s game.”
Hayward is averaging 16 points, five rebounds and five assists a game, but is shooting just 40 percent from the floor. Van Gundy said he believes Hayward is worth “a little bit above the mid-level exception,” or about $6.5 million to $7 million.
“But from what I’ve heard, he’s going to get a lot more than that interest-wise,” Van Gundy said.
Derrick Favors was out on the court at Staples Center before Tuesday’s game working his way around the 3-point arc with Jazz assistant Alex Jensen feeding him passes.
“Let’s keep it in practice,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said of his 6-foot-10 power forward’s 3-point shooting.