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Report: Utah Jazz will match Hornets' offer sheet to Gordon Hayward

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

The Jazz won't mind paying big money to Hayward.  (USATSI)
The Jazz won't mind paying big money to Gordon Hayward. (USATSI)

More Offseason Analysis: Updating Free Agency news | Top 40 free agents

Do you believe Gordon Hayward is a max contract player? A lot of fans and pundits were confused by the max offer sheet extended to Hayward. Coming off a season in which his statistics looked nice but his shooting effiency took a major dip due to being the focus of opposing defenses. Whether you think his circumstances or talent demand a max contract or not, the Charlotte Hornets and now reportedly the Utah Jazz believe they do.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the max offer sheet the Hornets agreed to with Hayward will be matched by the Jazz. The Jazz have three days to match it from the time it's signed, and are expected to take the majority if not all of that time to match it.

Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.1 rebounds for the Jazz last season as they transitioned into their rebuilding phase. Only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Michael Carter-Williams were able to average 16-5-5 for the season, as well as Hayward. However, Hayward dropped his field goal percentage from 43.5 percent to 41.3 percent and his 3-point percentage from 41.5 percent to 30.4 percent with all of the defensive game planning moving toward trying to stop him first. He was much more efficient in 2012-13 when he had Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson leading the way.

He tried to rejoin Jefferson in Charlotte, but the Jazz matching the four years and $63 million will prevent that. The amount of money owed to Hayward will look bad if the team can't put other players around him that are really good. He can't be the focus of the defense but he can take advantage of being lower on the totem pole. The drafting of Trey Burke last year, Dante Exum this year, and the development of Derrick Favors could determine just how realistic that is for Hayward and the Jazz.

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