Hayes met with New Jersey management in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday and left confident that he’ll sign for the bi-annual exception that would pay him $4 million over two seasons. Once the San Antonio Spurs agreed to terms with Roger Mason Jr., on Wednesday, the Nets became a logical destination for Hayes, who is leaving the Detroit Pistons.
Hayes’ agent, Dan Fegan, has a strong relationship with new Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe. They got together on several players, including Kenyon Martin and Nene, with the Nuggets. Fegan also represents new Net Yi Jianlian. The Nets had a meeting later on Thursday night with another Fegan client, Denver free agent forward Eduardo Najera.
The Nets could use part of their mid-level exception to sign Najera, who is believed to be seeking a three-year contract.
As the Nets begin rebuilding with a core of young players, Hayes, 26, gives New Jersey’s bench some veteran scoring pop and athleticism. After spending four years with the Washington Wizards, where Hayes had been a lottery pick in 2003, he played the past season with the Pistons.
Hayes, who is 6-foot-8, averaged a career-low 6.7 points in the regular season, and played a diminished role in the playoffs. He played once in the Pistons’ six-game Eastern Conference finals loss to the Boston Celtics.
Still, Hayes has a three-point touch and the ability to defend the perimeter that intrigued several contenders, including the Spurs and Phoenix Suns.