Hornets offer Gordon Hayward $63 million max contract

Hornets offer Gordon Hayward $63 million max contract

Hornets offer Gordon Hayward $63 million max contract

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by SAM AMICK / USA Today

WCNC.com

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 7:42 AM

The Charlotte Hornets can't be called cheap anymore. And if their latest move pays off like they hope, they may be deemed contenders before long.

By securing an agreement with Utah Jazz restricted free agent small forward Gordon Hayward on a four-year, $63 million maximum contract offer on Tuesday, the Hornets made a strong push to add a talented young piece to their already-solid roster. A person with knowledge of the deal confirmed it to USA TODAY Sports, but spoke on the condition of anonymity because it can't yet be finalized.

The Jazz have given indications that they would likely match any such offer for Hayward, but it's clear that Hayward would prefer to join this Hornets group that went 43-39 last season and lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The deal can't be signed until the free agency moratorium lifts at 12:01 a.m. EST on Thursday, and the Jazz would then have three days to decide whether or not to match.

This marks the second consecutive free agency period in which Charlotte – which for years was deemed frugal under owner Michael Jordan's leadership – has opened its checkbook wide open for a top target. They landed forward Al Jefferson on three-year, $40.5 million deal last July and were widely criticized for overpaying for him at the time, but he went on to put up big numbers (21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds per game) for one of the Eastern Conference's most surprising teams.

Hayward, the 23-year-old who averaged 16.2 points (41.3% shooting overall, 30.4% from three-point range), 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game last season, failed to reach an agreement on extension with the Jazz before the Oct. 31 deadline. The Charlotte Observer first reported that Hayward and the Hornets reached the agreement.

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