When Gordon Hayward agreed to leave the Utah Jazz to sign with the Boston Celtics earlier this summer, many wondered whether the Jazz's handling of Hayward's 2014 restricted free agency had any bearing on the decision.
Rather than immediately offering Hayward a max contract three years ago, the Jazz told him to go out and get an offer from another team -- which he did, from the Charlotte Hornets. The Jazz matched the four-year, $63 million offer sheet and Hayward returned to the Jazz, later becoming an All-Star and one of the best forwards in the NBA.
On "The Woj Pod" with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Hayward admitted that the 2014 situation stayed with him, and that he was upset the Jazz didn't show more confidence in him.
"It lingered for maybe a little bit of time at the beginning of when I signed it," Hayward said. "None of those feelings were there this time around.
Restricted free agency, it's a little weird.
As a player, you're sitting there thinking like, 'What the hell?' You look at all these other players where teams are like, 'He's our guy.' Like, 'We're going to give him the max.' Blah, blah, blah. And I've got to go out and get one? Like, 'Do you not believe in me?' Like, 'Do you not feel like I'm the guy for you?'
From a team's perspective, it's the smartest thing to do. Like, 'Why would we overpay you until somebody else makes us, essentially?' You know what I mean?
So, I can for sure see it from both sides. But restricted free agency is weird.
There's no way of telling how much the incident affected Hayward's decision to leave the Jazz, but it's clearly something Hayward still remembers vividly.