Report: Jazz’s Hayward OKs max-deal offer sheet with Hornets

Once Gordon Hayward (per-game averages: 16.1 points, 5.2 boards, 5.1 rebounds last season) inks his four-year, $63 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets (as early as Thursday), the Utah Jazz will have three days to match the terms.

Howard Smith

The ball’s in your court, Utah.

On Tuesday night, the new-look Charlotte Hornets reportedly made official an expected but nonetheless landmark move, agreeing to terms with Jazz forward Gordon Hayward on a max-deal offer sheet of four years and $63 million. Yahoo! Sports/FOX Sports 1 Insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.

Once Hayward puts pen to paper on Charlotte’s substantial offer (free agents can begin signing contracts and offer sheets on Thursday) the Jazz will have three days to match the deal, or lose arguably the most complete player on their up-and-coming roster.

The Hayward deal comes a day after the Hornets — who have roughly $21 million in available salary-cap space — saw power forward Josh McRoberts agree to a deal with the Miami Heat.

With the Jazz in 2013-14, the 24-year-old Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists, while notching 10 double-doubles. In fact, for the team’s season finale against Minnesota, Hayward amassed 23 points, 10 boards and nine assists in Utah’s 136-130 victory.

For those closely following the silly season of NBA free agency, the Hornets (formerly the Bobcats) have been aggressive in their pursuit of Hayward, envisioning him to be a major building block in Charlotte’s hopefully quick ascension from league bottom-feeder to playoff team to potential division champion (Southeast) — especially if LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade don’t return to the Miami Heat.

It also helps that Hornets center Al Jefferson had been actively recruiting Hayward — his former teammate with the Jazz — to make the move to Charlotte.

Of course, we’ve seen how moves like this play out in the NBA, within the rules of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. The Jazz have plenty of cap space and have publicly stated their intentions to match any offer to Hayward — a four-year standout from Butler.

Hayward (41-percent shooter in 2013-14) shot just 30 percent from the beyond the arc last season. But the Hornets are obviously hoping that was a one-year anomaly for the 6-foot-8 wingman.

Last season, Charlotte was one of the poorer 3-point-shooting teams in the league, finishing 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage, 25th in 3-pointers made and 27th in 3-pointers attempted.