Utah Jazz: GM Lindsey wants Hayward to be ‘a career Jazz member’
The swingman is noncommittal on future with the club, but teammates say they “don’t think he’s going anywhere.”
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward (20) drives past Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) as the Utah Jazz face the Memphis Grizzlies, NBA basketball at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.
Next week, Gordon Hayward will be in the Philippines, hosting a basketball camp. Sometime “soon” after that, he’ll be getting married.
As for his plans as a restricted free agent? Well, the 24-year-old wing might not want to make too many of them.
Speaking at the team’s locker cleanout day Thursday, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey stopped short of promising the team would bring Hayward back. But Lindsey made it clear Hayward is in the plans.
“We look forward to him being a career Jazz member,” Lindsey said.
Last fall, Hayward’s camp and the Jazz front office failed to reach terms on a contract extension. So in July, Hayward will be free to test his value on the open market. And the Jazz are in prime position to match.
“We’re confident in Gordon and you guys saw what we did the last few years as far as being very disciplined with our salary cap,” Lindsey said, adding that the team has the funds to give Hayward a substantial raise and still sign another max-deal player if the right one were available. “… We’ll stand by our statement that we hope he’s a member of the Utah Jazz for the length of his career.”
Thrust into the role as the team’s top scoring option this season, Hayward struggled at times with his jump shot. But he still led the Jazz in scoring and was one of four players in the NBA to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists a game.
Jazz management loves his versatile game, especially his ability to pass the ball.
One of Lindsey’s main directives for the fourth-year player: “have more fun.”
“I think there are times he misses a shot and he feels like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Lindsey said. “I’m sure wins and losses weighed heavy on him. He actually shared that” in his exit interview.
Hayward said the year exposed some of his weaknesses and he plans to address a number of issues — starting with his jump shot (he hit just 30 percent of his attempts from 3) — in the offseason.
Asked whether he wanted to be back in Utah next year, Hayward was diplomatic and vague, saying, “Utah has been great for me. But it’s a business.”
But Hayward’s teammates remain convinced he’ll be back in Salt Lake City.
“I don’t think he’s going anywhere,” point guard John Lucas III said. “He’s the key. He’s the future here.”
“You never know how the offseason will go, but I plan on seeing him here,” forward Jeremy Evans said.
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