Welcome to the NBA’s free agency period! Every year (when there are no labor stoppages) at 12:00 AM Eastern Time on July 1, contracts expire, allowing free agents to communicate with numerous teams in the hopes of negotiating their next contract. For Jazz fans, the most intriguing aspect of this year’s free agency is Gordon Hayward. After Hayward and the Jazz failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension prior to the deadline last year, he was assured of becoming a restricted free agent this July 1 if the Jazz issued him a qualifying offer, which they did. With Hayward being a restricted free agent, he’s allowed to sign an offer sheet with a team other than the Jazz, but the Jazz maintain the right to match any such offer. We Jazz fans have fond memories of Wes Matthews and Paul Millsap going through the restricted free agency process. As free agency began, word broke that the Cleveland Cavaliers were thinking about signing Hayward to a big offer sheet:
Jazz vowing to match any offer to RFA Gordon Hayward but fresh rumbles tonight that Cavs weighing wisdom of big offer sheet to Hayward
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2014
Their interest was obviously sincere, because it was later confirmed on Wednesday that Hayward was indeed meeting with Cavs officials:
Utah RFA Gordon Hayward is meeting with Cavaliers officials in Cleveland today, sources tell Yahoo. Offer sheet could be forthcoming.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2014
There was some speculation that “big” really meant “max”:
My man @WindhorstESPN reporting Cavs believed to be preparing max offer sheet to RFA Gordon Hayward. ESPN reported Cavs' interest yesterday
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2014
Report: Cavaliers set to offer Gordon Hayward $63m max offer sheet http://t.co/OnLPGwGFdH
— Matt Moore CBS (@MattMooreCBS) July 2, 2014
Naturally, this led to a great deal of debate about whether Hayward is worth a max contract. Here is a sampling of the MANY comments on the matter.
The idea of Gordon Hayward getting a max deal is *Stephen A. Smith voice* blasphemous.
— El Pollo Hermano (@Tino_Pham13) July 3, 2014
If Cavs give Gordon Hayward a max offer sheet, that will be dumbest move of free agency.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 3, 2014
Cavs wanna offer Gordon Hayward a max deal!?? That's why they're a garbage organization
— Scott (@MexicanScott) July 3, 2014
As a general rule, people thought it was silly or just dumb to offer Hayward a max contract. As far whether or not the Jazz should match a max offer, well, people had thoughts on that too.
Match. Then with more spacing. More transition. More passing. Gordon Hayward will go back to being your favorite Jazz player, Utah.
— Jake (@jakewritesstuff) July 3, 2014
@ESPN700 absolutely not do not match Gordon Hayward's contract
— Steve Wuthrich (@srwswish) July 2, 2014
Gordon Hayward is NOT a max player. But I can see why the Jazz would match. You have to spend the money somewhere.
— Neil Rasmuson (@BucUte) July 2, 2014
There certainly wasn’t a consensus, but the majority of the feedback I saw was in support of the Jazz sticking with their reported intentions of matching any offer for Hayward.
But by the end of the day Wednesday, it seemed that the Cavs were actually reluctant to make an offer to Hayward due to the belief that Jazz would indeed match the offer.
As tweeted earlier, reports detailing Cavs/Gordon Hayward meeting "greatly exaggerated," source says. No offer today and maybe not one ever.
— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 3, 2014
So it started with the Cavs getting ready to make a big offer to Hayward. Then it was a max offer and not just big. Twitter went crazy with this one. Then Cleveland didn’t make an offer at all, though they definitely still could. Perhaps Kurt Kragthorpe from the Salt Lake Tribune summed it up best:
Interesting Twitter day. 10 hours of debate about whether Jazz should match Gordon Hayward's "max" offer from Cavs, who make no offer.
— Kurt Kragthorpe (@tribkurt) July 3, 2014
Isn’t this fun, Jazz Nation? Just think, we might get to see this cycle repeat itself in the near future.
— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 2, 2014
Until we hear of Hayward definitely reaching an agreement with a team, we can plan on plenty of more rumors. Given that fact that we’re still months away the start of the 2014-15 season, I’m excited for the rumors to keep on coming! Have fun with them!