The Pelicans playing risk/reward with Jaxson Hayes

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the big questions of the offseason was whether the New Orleans Pelicans would come to an agreement on an extension with Jaxson Hayes.

That question was answered yesterday, as both sides reportedly decided to take a wait-and-see approach:

This makes sense for the Pelicans and for Jaxson Hayes, as they need to see more out of him before committing long term (though he did look fantastic in limited preseason action) and Hayes might be able to get himself more money if he plays well and is a big part of the rotation of a good team.

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His early injury didn’t help his cause, as Hayes will miss the beginning of the regular season, so will have to wait to make his case for a big raise.

Even though it does make some sense to wait, this decision carries risk for both sides.

New Orleans Pelicans: Risk/reward with Jaxson Hayes

The risk/reward for Hayes

Hayes is likely holding out for more money and he and his agent must think he has a chance to play well this season and earn it. Signing an extension now would be selling low on himself in some ways, but he is also risking some guarantees.

I don’t know if the sticking point was annual salary or years but there was certainly a number of both that the Pelicans would have been comfortable with. Hayes may end up with a bigger deal in the end, but if he can’t stay healthy or has a mediocre season, he gave up some long-term stability.

Hayes is betting on himself, which has a big potential pay off at the end. Given his age and high-ceiling talent, the Pelicans won’t be the only team interested in his services in restricted free agency. Hayes could get a huge offer sheet from some other team that is willing to bet on his potential, so for him the choice was between some amount of guaranteed money or the possibility of much more.

The risk/reward for the Pelicans

There is really less risk for the Pels, as they can match any offer, and if they think Jaxson Hayes is part of the long-term plans, they can retain his services after this season anyway.

The only real risk is that they could have possibly locked him in now at a discount rate that may go up at the end of the season if he has a good year. There are going to be plenty of teams with cap space next summer, so if Hayes is an impact rotation player, he’s going to cost New Orleans more than he would have now.

That’s a risk the Pelicans are willing to take. For one, if he has a really good season, then they’ll be happy to re-sign him even if it costs marginally more. There is also risk in signing him now, as you’d then be committing long term to a guy who has not yet proven he deserves that commitment.

New Orleans is going to make him earn it, so Hayes has a lot at stake personally this season, as a big year for him will probably mean way more money from the Pelicans or someone else.

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