As the clock ticked 10:01 p.m. Monday night in Salt Lake City, Dennis Lindsey, Justin Zanik and the Utah Jazz front office went to work.
The Jazz reached out to Washington forward Trevor Ariza as free agency opened, according to a source. Utah also made contact with Wizards unrestricted free agent Trevor Booker, according to reports.
According to sources, some of the Jazz’s earliest free-agent inquiries focused on three players from two other teams:
Player Last team Key 2013-14 stats
Trevor Ariza Wizards 14.4 pts, 6.2 reb, .407 3%
Trevor Booker Wizards 6.8 pts, 5.3 reb, .551 FG%
Ryan Kelly Lakers 8.0 pts, 3.7 reb, .338 3%
But Gordon Hayward was the team’s top priority — and the first call Jazz brass made late Monday. According to a source, the Jazz and Hayward’s camp were to continue their negotiations Tuesday, regarding the 24-year-old swingman and restricted free agent.
The Jazz have made no bones about their desire to bring Hayward back.
"We anticipate Gordon being a part of our franchise for a long time," Lindsey said last week.
While the Jazz were able to reach an extension last fall with forward Derrick Favors, the team was unable to reach consensus with Hayward. But the former Butler star’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, says there’s no bad blood between the two sides and is eager to continue talks with Lindsey.
Hayward played out the season without a deal, and shouldered the load of being the Jazz’s top option. He averaged 16 points and better than five rebounds and five assists a game, though he struggled with his shot.
"Last year was a great learning experience for him," Bartelstein said. "It was the first time he was put in that role. It was a huge adjustment. Teams were game-planning for him. It was a gigantic challenge. There were times he struggled, but those challenges are how players grow. There’s no doubt what he went through last year will help him."
Will it help Hayward financially?
Time will tell.
Hayward is a talented wing in a free agent class that looks short on them. And Hayward is expected to explore the market in the coming days, though the Jazz will be allowed to match any offer he might receive.
Meanwhile, the Jazz were set to meet with free agent forward Marvin Williams, and according to sources, there’s mutual interest in Williams returning to Utah.
Williams is still just 28 years old and can provide some outside shooting.
That’s one thing the Jazz intend to target this offseason.
Asked about the Jazz blueprint for free agency, one league source said "more shooting from more positions on the floor." Along those lines, according to a source, the Jazz could look at Lakers restricted free agent Ryan Kelly, a 6-foot-11 forward with touch from deep.
Other targets include Booker and Ariza, both key contributors in Washington last year.
Booker, a 6-foot-8 power forward, had a solid season with Washington, starting 45 games and averaging 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 21 minutes a game. The Wizards declined to tender him a qualifying offer, but still hope to re-sign him, according to the Washington Post.
Ariza averaged 14 points and six boards a game, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3. But the small forward will have plenty of suitors. According to ESPN, the Suns, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Mavericks, Cavaliers and Wizards also contacted Ariza late Monday.
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