Should the Philadelphia 76ers Make a Run at Gordon Hayward?

Mar 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) handles the ball against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) handles the ball against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

If Gordon Hayward declines his player-option with the Utah Jazz, would it make sense for the Philadelphia 76ers to pursue him in free agency?

Now, the Philadelphia 76ers will most likely attempt to make a splash in free agency. After years of idly standing by, they just might make their move. This offseason makes sense for that sort of action to take place.

But, who should the Sixers even target? They have so many holes that they could do a number of things. With the uncertainty at most spots, the Philadelphia 76ers could draft or sign players at any position other than center. Either way, the Sixers should go after Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.

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In a market heavily driven by near-max contracts, the Philadelphia 76ers could be big-time buyers. Teams that want to make a splash could easily see themselves spending more than they would hope. Obviously, with their financial flexibility, this can only benefit the Sixers.

With years of doing next to nothing in the books, I can’t imagine this trend continuing. You can sit on your hands for so long until the time is right. This offseason may turn out to be that time. To me, Gordon Hayward makes sense as that blue-chip talent that you go all in for.

Mega Market

Now, people tend to forget about the importance of a free agent class. This year especially, the market could seriously dictate how much a player can expect to make. When you look at this year’s potential free agent class, Gordon Hayward could get a huge pay-raise.

With the market as star-heavy as ever, I can’t see teams getting Gordon Hayward for a bargain. Guys like Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry could become free agents. This would flood the market. Now, that doesn’t mean that these players will come cheap.

If anything, having such a top-heavy free agent class only promotes excessive spending. Guys like Gordon Hayward should expect to get offered max contracts, and with good reason. For a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, this could work to their benefit.

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As a team with loads of money saved up cap-wise, the Sixers have the ultimate advantage here. Unlike most teams that spent a ton of money last summer, the Sixers can still invest big money in marquee free agents. Going next season, the Philadelphia 76ers have $35,459,972 in owed salary. This puts them in a very good position to make a big splash this summer. They have the money to invest in a guy like Gordon Hayward.

We get it, the tanking has *hopefully* come to an end. The Philadelphia 76ers, under the oversight of Bryan Colangelo, will finally make the jump to competing for a playoff spot. But, can they do that with their current roster?

The Great Leap Forward

Right now that does not seem likely. While guys like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will be coming back, they can’t do it alone. They need to add a that final piece to the puzzle. To me, that piece may come either in the draft or in free agency.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Gordon Hayward declines his player option with the Utah Jazz. With that, he would enter free agency. In this year’s star-studded class, that could only help him. After seven years in Utah, Gordon Hayward could have all eyes on him this summer.

When you consider the year that Hayward had, you could see why he’s a potential gem in this year’s free agent class. After averaging averages 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, Hayward has positioned himself into a huge summer payday. In addition, the wing from Baylor made his first All-Star game, a milestone most players can only dream of accomplishing.

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So, by going after a player of Gordon Hayward’s caliber, the Philadelphia 76ers would immediately become playoff contenders. With all the young talent on that roster, an upper echelon veteran could bring some stability to the roster. No more mediocrity here! The Sixers can make such a deal, and should be in hot pursuit of one Gordon Hayward.

Now, even though they can pay Gordon Hayward a max contract, there’s no guarantee that he would take a max from the Philadelphia 76ers. If anything, the recent history of the team’s losing could turn him away from Philly. But, that doesn’t mean the Sixers shouldn’t still try to sign him.

Running Up The Price

Obviously, the market for a first or second option in the NBA is not open to all suitors. Many teams are either handcuffed to terrible contracts or simply don’t want to spend money. But, for the teams that are so close to getting over the hump, free agency is their only options.

These teams become desperate. Teams like the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers have great depth, but are one superstar away from being legitimate contenders. If they see Gordon Hayward as that key piece, they will go after him.

That’s where the Philadelphia 76ers come in. As previously mentioned, the Sixers have tons of cap space available to them. With that cap space, they can drive up the offers for Hayward, eventually causing teams to bid more than they had hoped. By doing so, you’ll either end up signing Hayward or making a team like the Celtics spend way more than they had hoped.

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So, at the very least, the Philadelphia 76ers could play a less direct role in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes. While signing Hayward could easily push the Sixers into the stratosphere, maybe Hayward simply doesn’t want to play in Philly. But hey, that doesn’t mean both parties can’t help each other out. While Gordon Hayward’s play alone should get him a max contract, frugal teams might not want to front that kind of dough. As a result, the Sixers could easily still be in play. Hopefully, both parties can come together and work something out if such action is desired.