Jazz match Hornets’ $63 million offer for Hayward

Gordon Hayward is staying in Utah after all.

The Jazz on Saturday matched Charlotte’s four-year, $63 million offer for the restricted free agent. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed Utah’s move first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

“I think it’s certainly a gigantic statement of how the Jazz value Gordon,” Bartelstein told The Associated Press.

The Jazz had until late Sunday to match the Hornets’ maximum offer sheet for the 6-foot-8 small forward. The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Jazz general manager Gordon Lindsey had repeatedly said he wanted to keep Hayward on the roster.

Hayward averaged career highs of 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season while leading the Jazz in scoring and minutes. He was the first Jazz player to average 16 points, five rebounds and five assists since Pete Maravich.

He had seven games with double-digit rebounds and six with double-digit assists. He scored more than 20 points in 22 games.

The Jazz, who couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension with Hayward last fall, extended a qualifying offer on June 26, making him a restricted free agent. Hayward also saw interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers before Charlotte’s offer came Thursday.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford praised Hayward’s “size, skill, competitiveness” and said he could play small forward or shooting guard.

“He’s 24 years old and he has the talent, the character and the work ethic to be an All-Star player,” Clifford said.

Hayward played his first three seasons in the league with center Al Jefferson, who became the focal point of Charlotte’s offense last year and earned third-team all-NBA honors.

The ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Hayward has played all four seasons in Utah. He has scored in double figures 63 times with nine double-doubles while averaging 12 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

The young Jazz struggled last season, going 25-57. In the aftermath, coach Tyrone Corbin was let go after three-plus seasons in Utah and the Jazz hired Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Quin Snyder.

Under Snyder, Utah is rebuilding around Hayward, Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Last month, the team added promising Australian guard Dante Exum and former Duke forward Rodney Hood in the NBA draft.

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