The Utah Jazz are expected to match any offer on the 24-year-old swingman, but with teams like Charlotte and Cleveland showing serious interest, that could mean forking up the cash for a max-level offer. Could the Hornets be the team to put Utah on the clock?
Why it could happen
Hayward is a young, versatile player who fits with many teams, but the Hornets stand as one of his best possible destinations. Coming off a surprising run to the No. 7 seed in the East last year, Charlotte could be gearing to take another major step forward this offseason by addressing its wing rotation.
The Hornets still have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the former No. 2 overall pick, and Gerald Henderson, but Hayward would give the team a legitimate two-way wing who can fill huge minutes. Next to big men Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, he could help space the floor while facilitating with his solid passing skills.
The big question here seems to be money, as the Hornets would need to potentially move some pieces around and/or renounce some cap holds in order to free space for Hayward. However, the room is there, as the Hornets have less than $48 million committed for 2014-15, with the projected salary cap around $63 million.
So the Hornets could start a max deal around $14-15 million in Year 1, if they want to put the ball in Utah's court.
Why it won't happen
The Jazz reportedly plan to match any offer extended to Hayward, even if it's a max-level deal.
That makes it pretty much impossible for Hayward to leave Utah this summer, unless the Jazz change their mind or agree to a sign-and-trade. The latter might be more likely, but there's been no indication to this point that Utah has interest in discussing deals.
From the Hornets' perspective, there's nothing stopping the team from ultimately offering Hayward a massive, long-term deal to join Kemba Walker and company. Utah stands firmly in the way, though, and isn't giving any indications it'll change positions.
Likelihood it happens
The reports surrounding the Jazz could be inaccurate, or the teams could get creative with sign-and-trade scenarios, but it's hard to picture Utah letting Hayward walk outright. At this point, expect Hayward to be back in Utah next season, with the real question being how it happens. The Hornets might be a nice fit, but they remain somewhat of a pipe dream at this point. 2 out of 10.