Restricted free agent Gordon Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $63 million maximum contract offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
A player option for the fourth year of the deal and a 15 percent trade kicker are expected to be included in the offer sheet, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Both would be considered incentives to dissuade the Jazz from matching the sheet, but Utah officials have remained adamant they will match any sheet for Hayward – including a max offer.
Agent Mark Bartelstein aggressively courted the market for an offer sheet for Hayward, discussing deals with several teams – including Cleveland, Phoenix and Boston – but ultimately reached the deal with Charlotte on Tuesday. There was doubt within the league whether Bartelstein could secure a max offer for Hayward, but he found a willing suitor with the Hornets.
For Charlotte, it's a bold move out of owner Michael Jordan. The Hornets desperately need to upgrade their wing positions to deliver scoring punch, and the possibility of securing Hayward – even on such a rich deal – makes sense. The Hornets want to maximize the next two years with center Al Jefferson and coach Steve Clifford under contract, and Hayward would give them a perimeter scoring presence they've desperately missed.
Charlotte is negotiating with free agent Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts at power forward, but those talks could be on hold while Utah is working to match the offer sheet.
Hayward, 24, will sign the offer sheet when the free-agent moratorium is lifted on Thursday, and league rules will give Utah three days to make a decision on matching the deal.
Several other teams had called Utah to inquire about the possibility of sign-and-trade deals if they signed Hayward to an offer sheet, but Charlotte never did, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The Hornets are short of the kind of young frontline talent that would appeal to teams in such a deal.
Utah had contract extension talks with Hayward in October that ultimately ended without an agreement.
Hayward, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season.