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Report: Suns to make big offer to Gordon Hayward, Jazz likely to match

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Can Phoenix pry Hayward away from Utah?
Can Phoenix pry Gordon Hayward away from Utah? (USATSI)

More Offseason Analysis: Coaching changes, news | Free Agency | Draft

If Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward was going to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, there would no doubt be a bidding war for his services. He's a fantastic playmaker at 6'8", he's a very good outside shooter, and at just 24 years old, he's already one of the better all around forwards in this league. However, he's a restricted free agent coming off of his rookie contract and that makes it almost impossible to pry him away from the Jazz this summer.

That won't stop the Phoenix Suns from trying though. The Suns are reportedly expected to make a big offer to Hayward, and it may even be a max contract offer to make the Jazz question whether or not they should match it. However, the Jazz are expected to match any offer sheet Hayward might sign with another team, including a potential offer from the Suns.

The Suns aren't shy about trying to pry young players away in free agency with a max offer sheet. They signed Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet back in 2012 after he spent an injury-riddled season with the New Orleans Pelicans following being traded for Chris Paul. Gordon asked New Orleans not to match the offer sheet, but they decided to keep him on their roster anyway by matching the deal and retaining Gordon.

Hayward set career highs in scoring average (16.2), rebounds per game (5.1), assists per game (5.2), and steals per game (1.4) in 2013-14. He struggled with his outside shot (30.4 percent from 3-point range lowering his career accuracy to 36.5 percent) but he was easily the best player on a Jazz team that went 25-57. On draft night, the Jazz selected Dante Exum with the fifth pick and Rodney Hood with the 23rd pick, adding to the young core Hayward will likely be asked to lead for the next few seasons.

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