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Utah Jazz: It’s almost summer for free agent Hayward
NBA » Jazz swingman is on verge of big contract — will Utah match all offers?

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• Twice he’s fallen an assist shy of a triple-double.

• On Jan. 7, he scored the Jazz’s final 17 points to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At a glance

Gordon Hayward, by the numbers

Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists FG% 3FG%

2010-11 72 16.9 5.4 1.9 1.1 48.5 47.3

2011-12 66 30.5 11.8 2.6 3.1 45.6 34.6

2012-13 72 29.2 14.1 3.1 3 43.5 41.5

2013-14 68 36.3 16.0 5.2 5.2 41.5 31.3

Jazz at Thunder

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: ROOT Sports

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"I think he can [be a team’s top player]," ex-Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "It’s up to Gordon. It’s up to Gordon what he do with it. For him, he’s a quiet guy. He’s a facilitator. He’s a playmaker. It all depends on how he feels about it and how he approaches it."

Another ex-teammate, DeMarre Carroll, called Hayward "phenomenal," but provided a different perspective on one of Utah’s most indispensable players.

"If he can get on a team where he’s not the first option, he’s the second option or third option, he’d probably be an All-Star," Carroll said.

One thing that is certain for Hayward: he’s about to get a raise.

The only question: How much?

As the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Hayward will be paid $3.4 million for his work this season, the last of his rookie deal. And when free agency opens in July, it seems certain Hayward will have his share of suitors if he cannot reach a deal with the Jazz.

If he does end up signing an offer sheet with another team, Utah will have the opportunity — and funds — to match any offer if it sees fit.

Hayward’s agent has made it clear that he was not seeking a max deal for his client last fall, though how much the Jazz might be willing to pay for Hayward’s services remains unknown.

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Barring an exorbitant offer from elsewhere, however, the Jazz are poised to match.

"He’s someone we can see in a Utah Jazz jersey until he retires," general manager Dennis Lindsey said in October. "That’s our hope. We think there’s a great fit."

As the offseason approaches, Hayward is starting to pad his resume. He’s knocking down more shots (47 percent overall and 35 percent from 3 in March) and he’s getting to the free-throw line more often.

What it will mean in terms of dollars is still unclear.

"You can’t worry about that until the summer," Hayward said. "As of right now I’m just playing basketball."

The rest will follow.

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