The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered a huge blow this summer after Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors. However, the Thunder can quickly recover with big signings next summer or trades before the deadline in February.
Durant’s departure left a huge gaping hole on the wings for the Thunder. But according to the latest OKC Thunder rumors from Tony Heim of Thunderous Intentions, they could fill that void with Gordon Hayward next summer.
Hayward will be playing in the third season of his four-year, $62.96 million contract with the Utah Jazz. However, the sweet-shooting forward holds a player option in the final year of the deal, which means he could become a free agent after the 2016-17 NBA season.
When he becomes a free agent, he will be free to sign elsewhere. This puts the Jazz in a tough situation. Should they wait for Hayward to become a free agent or trade him before the deadline in February instead of losing him for nothing next summer?
In the event Hayward becomes available via trade, the Thunder are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams in the race to nab the 26-year-old forward. However, the Thunder might not have the assets to reach a deal with the Jazz before the annual NBA trade deadline.
With that said, the best option for the Jazz is to wait until next summer. They will have the opportunity to sign Hayward without losing any player or draft picks. If the Indianapolis native decides to take his talents to Oklahoma City, he will take Durant’s previous spot and become Russell Westbrook’s new sidekick.
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However, signing Hayward will not be a walk in the part for the Thunder. The Jazz are expected to move heaven and earth to keep him. There are also several teams expected to make a run at the former Butler standout, including the San Antonio Spurs, as reported by FanSided’s Air Alamo.
Hayward, the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has spent his entire six-year career in Utah. He averaged career-high 19.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last season.