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Jazz Match Hornets Offer Sheet Keep Hayward

The headliners in the free agent market in the NBA are starting to fall into place. LeBron James has decided to return to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony is staying put in New York and Pau Gasol signed with the Chicago Bulls.

However, other free agents that are not as high profile have signed with new teams or re-signed with their current team. One of those is Gordon Hayward from the Northwest division’s Utah Jazz.

On Thursday, Hayward signed an offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets for four years and $63 million. Nevertheless, the Jazz retained the restricted free agent by matching the offer sheet on Saturday.

Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein said that Utah had made a huge statement to Hayward by matching the offer made by Charlotte.

Hayward was one of just five NBA players last season to average a minimum of 15 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. The other four on the list include Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Michael Carter-Williams.

Hayward’s agent expressed the appreciation his client has for the front office of the Hornets for offering the player a great contract and making him feel like an integral piece of the re-building of the club.

However, said Bartelstein, it is also a great thing when the organization you have been a part of  wants you to remain with them so much they match such a good contract like the Utah Jazz has done. Hayward, concluded Bartelstein, knows how much the organization values him and wants him remain in a Jazz uniform.

Utah has stated on several occasions the past few months that their intentions were to match any offer sheet Hayward received. Last year he averaged 16.2 points along with 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists, which were all career highs.

Utah would not have had to worry about matching any offer sheets for Hayward if they would have negotiated an extension to his contract in October.

However, last year there was a break down in the talks, with the swingman reportedly wanting a contract for four years worth $13 million each year, while Utah did not want to go above an annual salary of $12 million.

Utah’s deadline to match the offer sheet by the Hornets was late Sunday. The offer sheet was the maximum for the small forward who is 6-foot-8.

Gordon Lindsey the general manager for the Jazz said that the team has said since the beginning of last season that they feel Hayward was a significant piece of the future of the Jazz.

The team, continued Lindsey, is pleased that the multi-faceted, young and high character individual will return to play with the team for years to come.

The Jazz are in a rebuilding process that will have Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Trey Burke on the roster with Hayward. In the recent draft, the Jazz drafted Dante Exum who is from Australia with one of the lottery picks.

Utah likely will not make any other roster moves of any significance before training camp opens.

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