The Utah Jazz matched the four-year, $63 million offer sheet the Charlotte Hornets extended to restricted free agent forward Gordon Hayward, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Hayward will reportedly sign the deal, which includes a fourth-year player option and 15 percent trade kicker, on Saturday. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, spoke with USA Today's Sam Amick.
Hayward, 24, averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 36.4 minutes a game last season, posting a 16.2 Player Efficiency Rating and 3.6 win shares.
His shot attempts rose and field goal percentage declined as he shoulder a larger share of Utah's offense following the offseason departures of big men Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets) and Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks).
Some have argued that Hayward does not deserve a maximum contract. SI.com's Rob Mahoney explained why Hayward, after completing the final year of a four-year, $11 million rookie contract, was given the max.
If allowed to fulfill a more level, natural role, Hayward will thrive. He has a great feel for where to be and when, adding to an offense even when not in control. These are valuable skills, and dual-threat wings who also rebound, cut and defend competitively are a rare breed. Add in Hayward's size and positional flexibility and those ranks grow even smaller.
This is why Hayward will earn the maximum possible salary (almost $15 million) next season – not for the player he was last season or even the year before, but for the amalgamation of both. That's a player worth chasing for the Hornets and one worth matching for the Jazz, overpayment be damned.
Utah won 25 games and finished last in the Western Conference. The team hired former Hawks assistant Quin Snyder as its head coach this offseason after electing not to offer Tyrone Corbin a new contract.
-- Chris Johnson