Utah Jazz fail to reach deal on contract extension for Gordon Hayward
By Aaron Falk
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Oct 31 2013 09:51PM
Gordon Hayward will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, after the fourth-year forward and the Utah Jazz failed to agree to a contract extension before the league deadline Thursday night.
The Jazz and Hayward’s camp had until midnight Eastern to reach a deal. Yahoo! Sports reported the two sides ended talks with about 30 to go before the deadline. Without an extension, Hayward becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He will be able to sign an offer sheet with another team, and the Jazz will have the opportunity to match.
As the deadline approached, multiple reports indicated the two parties were still far apart on a possible deal.
"It wasn’t for a lack of effort" from both sides, agent Mark Bartelstein said.
Hayward’s agent called it a "difficult deal" to get done and says Hayward’s feelings and loyalty toward the organization haven’t changed.
The Jazz did not comment on the situation.
The ongoing negotiations have been the source of daily questions for Hayward, who did not speak with reporters Thursday. Prior to Wednesday night’s season opener, Hayward said he was not focused on the contract talks.
"The game is the only thing that’s on my mind right now," he said. "That’s what’s important."
Hayward scored 12 points and recored five assists, four rebounds and three steals in a 101-98 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Last season, Hayward averaged 14.1 points and 3.1 rebounds a game for the Jazz.
The Jazz have already secured one major piece of their rebuilding plans, singing forward Derrick Favors to a four-year $49 million extension before the season started.
Both the Jazz and Hayward have expressed interest in getting a deal done. But Hayward remains a domino that has yet to fall for the Jazz.
In back, in black
Wednesday night should have been a special one for Trey Burke, but instead of making his NBA debut the rookie point guard was sitting behind the bench, dressed in a black suit.
"It was exciting," he said. "At the the same time, it was killing me not to be out there."
Burke is still rehabbing after having surgery on a fractured index finger midway through the preseason schedule. Burke said he undergoes physical therapy three or four times a week and is regaining strength in his hand. He can nearly make a full fist. Burke will be reevaluated on Nov. 11
Making him work
Mike Harris sat with coach Ty Corbin in the Jazz’s practice facility after final cuts last week. The coach told Harris he would be used at times at the power forward this season, and may matchup against bigger small forwards, such as Kevin Durant.
Harris, the last man to make the Jazz roster, didn’t expect that chance would come on opening night.
"He plays hard. He knows who he is. He’s not afraid of the physical part of the game," Corbin said. "A lot of guys will get up against a guy like Durant, one of the top guys in this league, and they back up and give them their way." Durant still managed to score 42 points while taking 24 foul shots.
"If you go back and read [Durant’s] lips after Mike fouled, he said, ‘You made me work tonight,’" point guard John Lucas III said