Four weeks after fracturing his left ring finger in practice, Gordon Hayward is expected to make his season debut Sunday, reports ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Hayward was originally given a six-weeks prognosis after the Oct. 7 injury, but he will make it back in a little less than a month. The 6’8″ small forward, who can opt out of his current deal next summer, led the Jazz in scoring last season with 19.7 points per game.
There’s more news out of Utah:
- Boris Diaw is expected to miss about two weeks with a contusion on his right leg, MacMahon posts on ESPN Now. With Derrick Favors still on a minutes restriction, that should mean more playing time for second-year forward Trey Lyles.
- With Rudy Gobert‘s extension now out of the way, Utah can turn its attention to locking up the rest of its core, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Hayward will be the priority, and the Jazz are expecting him to earn at least $25MM in his next deal, a hefty raise from this year’s salary of $16,736,710. They would also like to get something done with Favors, who is eligible for a renegotiation and extension through March. Utah’s front office believes he would receive a max contract on the open market and would prefer to reach an extension agreement before that happens. The Jazz may also need to find money for point guard George Hill, who is in the final year of his contract after being acquired from the Pacers in a three-team trade. At age 30, Hill wants a long-term deal and a raise from his current $8MM salary, but he would prefer not to change teams again.
- Dante Exum seems fully recovered from the ACL tear in his left knee that forced him to miss all of last season, notes Nathan Harker of The Deseret News. Exum played a season-high 29 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Spurs, collecting seven points and seven rebounds. “I feel good. I feel like I’ve put a lot of work into where I am now,” Exum said. “It’s just about continuing to get better, playing those 28-plus minutes where I’m playing those late minutes trying to get the win.”