It's official. Gordon Hayward will be staying in Utah. The Jazz informed the Charlotte Hornets via email Saturday morning that they will match the four-year, $63 million offer sheet that Hayward, a restricted free agent, signed on Thursday, as has been reported would happen. Hayward is in Utah to undergo a physical and formalize the long-term deal by signing the contract with the Jazz on Saturday. The versatile 6-foot-8 small forward will make $14.7 million this season and will have a player option heading into the final year of the pact in 2017-18. The deal also includes a 15 percent trade kicker, meaning Utah would have to pay an additional sum to send him elsewhere. Both sides are happy to have a resolution. "The Jazz made a gigantic statement about how they feel about Gordon by choosing to match this and that’s really appreciated," Hayward's agent Mark Bartelstein said. "That speaks volumes about how they feel about Gordon as a person and a player." Now that he's locked up for a while, Utah is optimistic the 24-year-old will embrace new Jazz coach Quin Snyder and flourish in an up-tempo offense that will rely on good spacing and ball distribution. This week, Snyder has been hesitant to talk too much about Hayward because of his free-agency situation. "Gordon’s proven himself to be an integral part of what’s building here," Snyder said. "Obviously, everybody in the league knows he is a talent and a really good player." Hayward was wowed by the Hornets, and was very appreciative of their hospitality put on while wining and dining him earlier this week before agreeing on terms. Charlotte was hoping to team him up with old friend Al Jefferson, who took Hayward out to lunch on his second day in town. The Hornets made a big effort to impress Hayward, including a Skype session with owner Michael Jordan, tours of the area, personalized marketing ideas for him in Charlotte, and visits with coach Steve Clifford and TV analyst Dell Curry (the former Jazz guard). Hayward and his family also spent time with Big Al and Charlotte personnel at a dinner at general manager Rich Cho's home. One of the fun highlights of the two-day recruiting trip was right up the video-game afficianado's alley. The Hornets inserted Hayward into a Starcraft game, one of his favorites, and showed the entertaining video on the large screen inside of Time Warner Cable Arena. Every screen inside of the arena, by the way, welcomed Hayward to Charlotte. Also, four different statistical analysts made presentations, showing how Hayward would excel in the Hornets' system. Although fun and impressive, it was all for naught.
Jazz match, Gordon Hayward to sign four-year, $63 million deal to stay in Utah
The Deseret News | Jul 12