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#pounditSunday, May 26, 2024

Gordon Hayward reportedly expected to opt out, test free agency next summer

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The Utah Jazz have a solid foundation of under-the-radar talent that has many expecting them to be a sleeper team in 2016-17. But they may have to start maneuvering to keep that foundation in place come next summer.

According to a report by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend, Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract next offseason (he holds a $16.7 million player option for 2017-18) and test unrestricted free agency.

It seems like a no-brainer that Hayward would dip his toe into free agency in 2017. At 26 years old, he’s about to enter into the prime of his career and should easily be in line for a max deal with his all-around skillset and with the salary cap expected to swell even further to north of $100 million.

But the timing of Hayward’s foray could complicate matters for the Jazz. Rudy Gobert (restricted) and the newly-acquired George Hill (unrestricted) are also due for free agency in 2017, while Rodney Hood (restricted), Derrick Favors (unrestricted), and Dante Exum (restricted) will all become free agents the summer after that.

Hayward, who probably would already have multiple All-Star appearances under his belt if he didn’t play in the elite wing-heavy Western Conference, looks like Utah’s most irreplaceable two-way player right now. Hopefully, ensuring that Hayward remains in a Jazz uniform for the long haul will provide the team with the underpinning they need to keep their core intact, even if it takes max money to do so.

Image Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

H/T Bleacher Report

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