The Jazz locked up one of their two young extension-eligible players over the weekend, signing Derrick Favors to a new four-year deal, and have now turned their focus to Gordon Hayward. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is hearing “strong rumbles” that Hayward will ink a long-term contract with Utah by the Halloween deadline, and that if it gets done, it’ll be worth more than Favors’ deal (Twitter links).
Hayward, 23, has improved in each of his three NBA seasons, setting career-highs last year in PPG (14.1) and PER (16.8), among other categories. He figures to assume a larger role for the rebuilding Jazz this season, with veterans like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Mo Williams having departed in free agency. As Stein notes (via Twitter), Hayward has plenty of fans in front offices around the league, so he’ll draw significant interest if he makes it to restricted free agency next summer.
While the Jazz have acknowledged that talks with Hayward are ongoing, the team hasn’t revealed more than that, and the 6’8″ forward isn’t discussing the negotiations either. He tells Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune that he’s not concerned about getting something done by October 31st, and was happy to see Favors locked up.
“Extremely happy for him,” Hayward said. “It’s great for the organization, for [Favors]. Couldn’t be happier for him. I’m just playing basketball. I don’t worry about that.”