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Gordon Hayward Symbolizes The Risks Taken In RFA

No one is questioning if Utah Jazz restricted free agent (RFA) Gordon Hayward is a nice young man and a very good basketball player, but after the Bobcats owner Michael Jordan opened the vault and made a maximum contract offer to the four year player, Hayward does symbolize the huge risks teams will take to get talent with a lot of room left for improvement.

The challenge with acquiring a RFA is their current team can match any offer and the Jazz have been making sure everyone knows that their intention when it comes to Hayward, so Jordan’s only chance at stealing the young forward is to bid so high and offer such generous perks that the Jazz approach him for a sign and trade or simply back away.

Hayward had a very good rookie season, played well when the Jazz had some decent talent around him the next two years, but last season his shooting fell off a cliff as “the man” in Utah. He put up good numbers, but not outstanding ones as a volume shooter and playmaker without a star beside him averaging 16.2 points on 13.4 shots, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.8 turnovers in 36.4 minutes – all career highs – but he shot 41.3 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from three-point range which represented big drops to career lows. Hayward’s shooting has fallen off at least 2 percent each season since his rookie mark of 48.5 percent.

The Draft Express Gordon Hayward 2014 Free Agent Scouting Video nails the good and the bad of Hayward. His strengths are: capable shooter (capable?), passing, height for position and he’s young. His weaknesses are his athleticism, length, strength and foot speed on defense and his challenges when creating for himself and finishing over smaller opponents in the post.

The Jazz were justifiably reluctant to offer Hayward a max deal. They probably could have dodged this situation by doing an extension a year ago and now the Bobcats have pushed them into a dilemma they would have preferred to avoid. One of these two teams is going to be accepting the risk of just how much further Hayward can develop his game because at an average of $15 million per season for the next 4 years, last year’s production simply doesn’t cut it. These are the chances a team takes to steal a good young RFA.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.