|Days after teammate and fellow 2010 Draftee Derrick Favors got a big extension from the Jazz, Hayward got one of his own from the team|
The 2013 offseason was a very eventful one for the Utah Jazz as its roster was severely shaken up with the departure of two big-time forwards.
Most notably, Al Jefferson, a member of the Jazz from 2010-13, signed this summer with the Charlotte Bobcats and Paul Millsap, a Utah draftee in 2009 out of Louisiana Tech, left for the Atlanta Hawks. Losing Jefferson and Millsap severely hurt Utah's frontcourt as the two were consistent double-digit scorers and solid rebounders for Coach Tyrone Corbin as a dynamic duo of forwards.
Now, the Jazz have to turn to their younger talent in order to return to the Western Conference after a one-year absence. Anchoring that core are Utah's pair of fourth-year players in Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, who were both members of the 2010 draft class. The main goal for general manager Dennis Lindsey this summer was to ensure the future of these two with the Jazz, and that he has done pretty well so far.
On Saturday, Favors — who was originally drafted by the Nets and was sent to Utah in the Deron Williams deal — got his four-year extension worth upwards of $49 million, keeping him in Salt Lake City for the foreseeable future. Hayward is the next one to get a big payday, which is expected to be made official in the next few days.
A Butler product who famously led his underdog Bulldogs team (led by now-Celtics coach Brad Stevens) to back-to-back national championship defeats in 2009 and 2010, Hayward struggled in his rookie campaign, averaging less than six points and two rebounds per contest during the 2010-11 season. Since then, he has increased his output in nearly every category and is now a dependable guy for Coach Corbin to rely on in big situations on both offense and defense.
With Favors, and now Hayward, locked up for at least the next four seasons, the Jazz — even without former mainstays in Jefferson and Millsap — are set for awhile and look to have the foundations of their rebuild set as they try to fight their way back into serious contention for another playoff berth, even in the tough Northwest Division of the West.