2014 Free Agency / Jul 1, 2014 / 8:00 pm

Reports: Cavs Could Give Hayward “Big Offer Sheet”; Celtics Interested, Too

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward (Russell Isabella, USATODAY Sports)

The Utah Jazz have made it clear they plan on matching any contract offers for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward. From a competitor’s perspective, though, it’s certainly better to make the Jazz back up that big talk than to take them at their word. The Cleveland Cavaliers are just such a team.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavs are considering extending a “big offer sheet” to Utah’s prized wing.

Though the prudence of offering Hayward a four-year, $63.5 million max contract is debatable, his seamless fit on the Cleveland roster isn’t. The Cavs have been searching for viable starters on the wing since LeBron James left in 2010, and pairing Hayward with number one pick Andrew Wiggins would certainly shore up that long-time weakness while moving Dion Waiters to the reserve role for which he’s best suited. Plus, Hayward would finally have necessary the perimeter talent around him to embrace a more ancillary play-making role; he was stretched thin as a primary ballhandler with Utah last season.

Something to note is that Cleveland agreeing to a maximum offer sheet with Hayward would preclude them from signing LeBron barring major, major roster gymnastics. Is their desire for Hayward a sign that the Cavaliers know they’re long-shots to bring James back to Ohio? Or merely a contingency plan should he re-up with the Heat as expected? Stay tuned.

Cleveland isn’t the only team calling Utah’s potential bluff, though. Hayward’s former college coach Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics, of course, have interest in prying the 24 year-old from the Jazz’s grasp. And just as unsurprisingly, their interest is reportedly reciprocated.

Hayward is already a good NBA player and still has room to grow. His best days are definitely ahead of him. But unless he becomes the elite shooter he was billed as coming out of Butler or gets markedly better as a finisher around the rim, it’s hard to imagine he’ll ever be worth a maximum contract.

Teams are sometimes forced to overpay to keep their restricted free agents in the fold, though, and the Cavs and Celtics make it seem as if the Jazz could be doing just that to retain Hayward.

Is Hayward worth a max contract?

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