Basketball / Sports

Waiting game begins in Hornets' pursuit of Gordon Hayward

Now it's hurry-up-and-wait time for the Charlotte Hornets' front office.

Restricted free agent Gordon Hayward has signed an offer sheet with the Hornets worth $63 million over four years – the maximum offer the Hornets could make. Now Hayward's previous team, the Utah Jazz, has until 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday to decide whether to match the offer and retain Hayward.

The Jazz has given Salt Lake City media every indication it will match the Hornets' offer. It's possible the Jazz might wait until Sunday to do that, if only to tie up the nearly $15 million in Hornets salary-cap space devoted to this offer sheet.

The NBA moratorium ended Thursday, allowing Hayward to sign this deal. The Hornets brought Hayward and his family in Monday and Tuesday for a recruiting visit. Shortly after leaving Charlotte, Hayward committed to the Hornets' offer.

At 6-foot-8, Hayward could play either shooting guard or small forward for the Hornets. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season, his fourth in the NBA.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford couldn't talk publicly about Hayward until the moratorium ended. Thursday Clifford said Hayward would be a great fit on a team that often struggled to shoot and score efficiently last season.

"Size, skill, competitiveness," Clifford said of Hayward's qualities. "He's won at every level of play. At his size he could play (either shooting guard or small forward) and he scores in a variety of ways.

"He's 24 years old and he has the talent, the character and the work ethic to be an All-Star player."

So now it's up to the Jazz.

"I feel like we've done everything that we can do," Clifford said. "We hope that they don't match. If they don't, we've significantly improved our wing positions."

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