CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets are going all out to sign restricted free agent Gordon Hayward.
The Hornets have agreed on a maximum offer sheet with Hayward that would pay the small forward $63 million over the next four years, a person close to with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Utah Jazz would have three days to match the deal once Hayward officially signs.
The person commented to the AP on condition of anonymity because Hayward can’t officially sign the offer sheet until Thursday when the league lifts its moratorium on signing free agents.
The Charlotte Observer was the first to report the news. Williams spent the last two seasons with Utah after six years with the Atlanta Hawks. He started 50 games last season for the Jazz and averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
The person also said the Hornets have spoken to representatives for free agents Marvin Williams and Brian Roberts and will meet with them later this week. Williams would give the Hornets another option at forward and Roberts would fill the backup point guard spot behind Kemba Walker.
It’s unclear at this point if the Jazz would match the offer to keep Hayward or consider a sign-and-trade with Charlotte.
Hayward, who visited with the Hornets this week, averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals last season for Utah. Hayward has spent all four seasons in the NBA with the Jazz. He shot 41.3 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 77 starts.
Hayward’s offensive production has increased with each season in the league, going from 5.4 points per game as a rookie to 11.8 in 2011 and 14.1 in 2012.
If the Hornets are able to land Hayward, it’s unclear what that might mean for small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or shooting guard Gerald Henderson.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Hayward is capable of playing both positions.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, is considered a strong defender but trying to revamp a hitch in his jump shot. Henderson hasn’t emerged as a dominant shooter as the team hoped when they signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract extension last year. The Hornets are high on small forward Jeff Taylor, their second-round pick in 2012, who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.
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.
After a slow start in free agency, the Hornets are picking up the pace.
The 6-foot-9, 237-pound Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft, played at North Carolina where he helped the Tar Heels win a national championship as a freshman and could be a backup option if they don’t land Hayward.
Roberts has spent the past two seasons with New Orleans. He started 42 games last season averaging 9.4 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 94 percent from the free-throw line.