Gordon Hayward will command a big payday next summer. It is unclear if he will remain with the Utah Jazz.
Hayward has a player option for the 2017-18 season. He is set to be paid $16.7 million that year, quite low for a player of his caliber. Many expect him to opt out of his contract and cash in on the NBA’s new TV deal.
The Jazz may not be so eager to offer him a lucrative contract extension. The team has several financial decisions to make as next season approaches.
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Aside from Hayward’s looming free agency, Rudy Gobert is groomed for a significant pay increase. The 7-foot-1 rim protector, who will be making just $2.1 million next season, will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Dante Exum and Rodney Hood’s rookie contracts will expire in 2018. Given their rate of development, the two will likely merit max deals two seasons from now.
“They’ve done a great job in building this current team, but now this is a key moment. Hayward can leave, Gobert is up for an extension,” said NBA salary cap expert Eric Pincus, via The Salt Lake Tribune. “The front office has to make decisions now for the long term. They need to show who they are, and the players need to show they are a core worth building around.”
Heading into next summer, the Jazz won’t be as salary cap-flexible as in years past. This offseason, the team signed veteran small forward Joe Johnson to a two-year $22 million deal. The signing should be a red flag for Hayward.
Additionally, the Jazz are committed to pay Boris Diaw and George Hill a combined $15 million for their services in the 2016-17 season. The two were shipped to Utah in July as salary cap relief for the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.
Sir Charles In Charge noted that two teams have emerged as early favorites in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes. If the Jazz decide to be frugal with their money, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have the financial means to go all-out on Hayward.
Pat Riley is looking to inject new blood into the Heat roster. On the other hand, Danny Ainge is banking on the college history between Gordon Hayward and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.