Gordon Hayward signed his offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets, the team announced early Thursday morning, just hours after the NBA’s moratorium had lifted. The Utah Jazz will now have three days (until 9:59 p.m. MT on Sunday) to match the four-year, $63 million offer for the restricted free agent.
It’s a larger deal than Hayward sought before last season, when agent Mark Bartelstein and the Jazz discussed an extension.
"[But] when you get to free agency, you never know what will happen," Bartelstein said Thursday. "He’s a young, unbelievably talented player who’s emerging. Those guys are really hard to get in free agency. There was a lot of interest in him, no question, from day one. We made a lot of visits, talked to a lot of people."
The Cavaliers and Hornets were among those stops, and Bartelstein said Hayward came away especially impressed by Charlotte’s pitch — a playoff team last year in the East, trying to take the next step — and, of course, by its cash.
"They really rolled out the red carpet and let him know how bad they wanted him, and they obviously put together a terrific offer," Bartelstein said.
Hayward’s deal will start at $14.8 million next year, increasing annually. It’s a similar figure to what Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, another young restricted free agent, received in an offer sheet from Dallas. According to reports, Parsons is set to make $46 million over three years.
The Jazz will have three days to evaluate the offer and decide whether to match, and all signs point to Hayward returning to Utah. Bartelstein declined to comment on the probability of the Jazz matching, but said Utah maintained contact throughout the process.
"There’s never been any bad blood with the Jazz, and there have always been good-faith negotiations," the agent said. "We weren’t able to make a deal last fall and this is what happens. This is the free agency process."
Hayward averaged 16 points, five rebounds and five assists a game last season, as he led a rebuilding Jazz team to a 25-57 record. He also shot career lows in the process.
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