<
>

Jazz, George Hill taking contract talks down to wire

The Utah Jazz and point guard George Hill are in active discussions on a contract extension in an attempt to strike a deal before Tuesday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline for such deals, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN that the sides continue to work toward an agreement in hopes of beating the league's annual deadline for what is known in the NBA as a renegotiation-and-extension. Such deals can't be struck between March 1 and June 30 of any salary-cap year.

Hill has recently declined to discuss a potential contract extension but told ESPN in November that he was "very interested" in the idea. Sources said the Jazz are determined to keep Hill for the long term even if extension terms can't be reached Tuesday and Hill decides he would rather test the open market starting July 1.

Among the reasons that Utah declined to put in a waiver claim on former Jazz star Deron Williams earlier this week, according to league sources, is because the club wants to use its nearly $14 million in available cap space to renegotiate and extend Hill's current contract.

Adding Williams' $9 million salary would have essentially forfeited the Jazz's means to sign Hill to an extension, since it needs the cap space to make an offer attractive enough for the 30-year-old to surrender the right to become a free agent this summer.

The Jazz can give Hill -- who is making $8 million in the final season of his contract -- the rest of its cap space this season and an extension of up to three years with annual raises of 7.5 percent. The best offer Utah can make Hill is for $88.3 million to be committed to the Jazz through the 2019-20 season, which computes to a three-year, $74.7 million extension plus $13.6 million this season.

"I really like it here," Hill told ESPN in November. "My family likes it here. I've got some friends here. The city's been great for me so far and it's a nice place to raise a family, so hopefully I get an opportunity to re-sign here if they would love me to be here."

Hill, whom Utah acquired from the Indiana Pacers in a three-team deal during the offseason, has been a major factor in the Jazz positioning themselves to fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs despite dealing with nagging injuries this season. He ranks second on the Jazz in scoring (17.7 PPG) and first in assists (4.0 APG), filling a major void at point guard. Utah is 25-9 when Hill plays and 12-13 when he sits out this season.

Signing Hill to an extension could also factor into the Jazz's attempts to re-sign All-Star small forward Gordon Hayward this summer. Hayward is widely expected to command a maximum contract assuming he does not exercise his player option for next season, and locking up Hill would bolster the Jazz's case to their star that Hayward can stay in Utah and play for a contender.