There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Jazz after their off-season acquisitions.
Many people are now speculating to see them back in the playoffs, but a report from Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune suggested that center-piece and fringe all-star Gordon Hayward could forego the final year on his contract, a player option of $16.7 million, to test free agency.
As it stands, there’s no reason for Hayward to not test free agency next summer. After seeing huge contracts secured by players of similar stature, and the salary cap continuing to bubble next off-season, it only makes sense that as he enters his prime at age 26, with a play-style that translates to both the offensive and defensive side of the floor, he sets himself up for a max contract as early as possible.
I must reiterate, this is simply routine for a player in Hayward's position.
If the theme of this past off-season was to acquire good veteran players who will help grow their young core, the theme next off-season should be making sure that they retain that young core. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are free agents at the end of 2017/18 and George Hill has the ability to walk somewhere else next summer if he doesn’t get what he want out of the Jazz.
However, it’s not nearly time for panic mode for Jazz fans.
They still look to have a very successful season and hopefully the allure of winning is going to help sway some of those guys to work out contracts so that all of the pieces can return.
In fact, if the Jazz are able to work out a contract with Hayward that makes both sides happy it offers a big incentive for the rest of their players to remain in Utah, too.
So don’t look for Hayward or anyone else to be moved any time this season, but how this season plays out is going to have a big impact on the future of the Jazz and their young roster.