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Utah Jazz: With Favors signed attention shifts to Hayward

Utah has until Thursday to finish deal or Hayward becomes restricted free agent.

First Published Oct 28 2013 01:31 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:36 pm

It was Derrick Favors’ day, but another name kept popping up.

Favors, the recipient of a new multi-year extension earlier this month, politely answered questions.

At a glance

Gordon Hayward

Age » 23

Selected » Utah’s first-round pick, ninth overall, in 2010

2012-13 stats » 14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 29.2 minutes

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After all, long before Monday’s press conference, a formal ceremony honoring a cornerstone of Utah’s rebuilding plans making a long-term commitment to the Jazz and moving firmly into multimillionaire status in the process, the question had been important to Favors too.

"The first question [Favors’ agent Wallace Prathers] had for me, was not ‘How much money is Derrick going to get?’ but ‘Can you keep the young core together?’" Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey recalled from the dais.

Asked again Monday, Lindsey responded: "I think so."

But if the Jazz are to secure their next major piece before the season is in full swing, there are only a few days left for negotiations. The team has until Thursday to reach a deal with swingman Gordon Hayward — the team’s first-round pick in 2010 — or allow him to become a restricted free agent after the season.

Jazz CEO Greg Miller said he is "very interested" in coming to a deal with Hayward — and he’d like to do it sooner rather than later.

"The sooner we can get all that worked out," Miller said, "the sooner it’s not going to be a distraction."

As Thursday’s deadline nears, Hayward said he is simply letting the team’s front office and his agent handle the negotiations.

"I’m still in the same spot, letting them worry about it," he said. "Today is me focused on getting better in practice."

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Recent reports have varied greatly on how far apart the two sides are when it comes to reaching a deal. If no agreement can be reached, Hayward will be free to test the market next summer, and the Jazz risk the possibility of having to either match an offer sheet or allow the 23-year-old Hayward to leave.

Hayward, meanwhile, risks walking away from a guaranteed, sizable raise.

"It’s really going to come down to whether or not there’s a deal that makes sense for both sides," Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. "Gordon loves it in Utah, loves playing for the Jazz. … He’d love to make a long-term deal there, but you only have so many times in your career when you make these decisions."

The Jazz will have money to match an offer sheet if it comes to that. Even with Favors now set to make in excess of $12 million next year, Utah is currently poised to have more than $30 million in cap space next summer.

But Utah won’t be the only franchise with money to spend come July.

Ten other teams are projected to have at least $12 million in cap space. The Lakers, 76ers, Mavericks and Suns all figure to have $19 million or more.

Hayward should certainly have a chance to prove his worth this year.

Now the focal point of Utah’s offense, Hayward spent the preseason filling up box scores. He led the Jazz in minutes (29.3) and points (15.9) while also averaging 4.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

And the Jazz want Hayward to do even more on the court — this year and beyond.

"I would love to be here," Hayward said Monday. "That would be great, especially to play with Fav and be a part of this franchise. It’s a great franchise, so I would love that."

Favors would also like to continue playing with Hayward.

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