Third-year center Jaxson Hayes, a lottery pick in 2019, has yet to carve out a role as a reliable part of the Pelicans‘ rotation. Hayes, who has spent some time in the G League this year and has seen his name surface in trade rumors, admitted to Will Guillory of The Athletic that the season has been a “frustrating” one. However, he said he believes his time in the NBAGL was good for him and that he remains confident he can take his game to another level.
“I don’t think I’m there yet, but I think I know what it looks like for the most part,” Hayes said. “I can be an elite pick-and-roll player. I can spread the floor by knocking down shots from farther out. I can bring the energy and the scoring. I can control the paint with my defense. I know what I bring to the table. I think a lot of teams know what I can bring to the table.”
Hayes will be extension-eligible during the summer of 2022 and would be a free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t get a new deal before then. An eventual change of scenery could be in the cards, but he’s still hopeful he can break through in New Orleans.
“If I get the chance, I will. You never know. Right now, I’m not getting the chance,” Hayes told Guillory. “I hope so. I love it here. This has been my home for three years. I’d much rather it happen here than anywhere else. But if it’s not in God’s plan, then it’s not in God’s plan. I’m just staying ready and focusing on myself. I’ll deal with whatever God gives me.”
Here’s more from around the Southwest:
- Garrison Mathews‘ new four-year contract with the Rockets is worth $8.2MM, with a $2MM guaranteed salary in 2021/22, sources tell Alykhan Bijani and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Mathews will have non-guaranteed salaries with trigger dates in years two and three, plus a fourth-year team option.
- A pair of Mavericks assistant coaches have entered the health and safety protocols, per head coach Jason Kidd, who said the team will be without Jared Dudley and Darrell Armstrong for the short term (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).
- In his latest ESPN.com mailbag (Insider link), Kevin Pelton explores how the Grizzlies are winning without Ja Morant and whether the Mavericks can count on regression to the mean for several slumping shooters.