Re: 2013 Fall camp/Pre-Season!
Rumors have his deal worth slightly more than Favors, potentially topping the $50 million mark. Nothing has been agreed to yet, but in his perfect world Hayward would emulate former Jazz greats John Stockton, Mark Eaton and Darrell Griffith by playing his entire career, not just the next several years, in Utah.
“I’d love to be in Utah for the rest of my career,” Hayward said to HOOPSWORLD. “The fans are great there, I love playing basketball there, but I’ll let my representatives deal with that and just focus on basketball.
“I just go out and play basketball, try to get better as a basketball player and let them handle that.”
At 23 years of age, the Jazz have a potential star on their hands in Hayward. He has no shortage of fans throughout the league, including Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Los Angeles Lakers star shooting guard Kobe Braynt, two people whose praise is difficult to earn. He’s significantly improved through each of his first three seasons, averaging 14 points, three rebounds and three assists last season while shooting 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc.
With Al Jefferon, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams gone, everyone keeps talking about how the pressure is on Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to step up and become leaders. But, Hayward could end up being the focal point of their attack, especially offensively.
“I have to be more of a playmaker this year, distribute the basketball to guys where they are going to be successful,” Hayward said. “We’re going to need me to make plays, that’s what I’m going to work on.”
Hayward’s development as a playmaker will especially be vital early on as the team deals with the absence of rookie point guard Trey Burke, who suffered a broken finger during the preseason. Burke was brought in to run the show and facilitate the offense, but he’ll need help in that area when he does return from Hayward, who is more than willing to do so.
“I’m comfortable doing that,” Hayward responded when asked about being a point forward. “I’ve been in this offense for a while. So, I know pretty much every position, where guys should be at. It’s just a matter of me executing the play.”
Hayward and the Jazz have one final tune up left in the preseason on October 25 when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ll have a five day break prior to the regular season and their home opener on October 30 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which will be a critical period.
“It’s been a long preseason already, it’s a lot of games,” Hayward said. “Hopefully when we get a little bit of a break before the first regular season game we can look at the film, see what we need to work on. We have a couple of practices, hopefully we can get ourselves ready.”
Sometime during that stretch, perhaps even sooner, Hayward could get a call from his agent with a request to join him in a meeting with Jazz management so that he can officially sign his extension. Hayward has accomplished a lot in the game of basketball, from leading then unknown Butler to the national championship game, to becoming a lottery pick and now one of the top young swingmen in the league. However, putting his signature on an eight-figure contract will likely top them all, and bring him one step closer to his dream of remaining in Utah for the duration of his career.