Rodney Hood’s camp open to an extension, but should the Utah Jazz bite?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 02: Rodney Hood #5 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball during the game between the Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 2, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 02: Rodney Hood #5 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball during the game between the Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 2, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz wing Rodney Hood is a shoe-in as the team’s go-to scorer next season, but should they bite on his reported willingness to sign an extension?

The Utah Jazz are set to face a brave, new world offensively during the 2017-18 NBA season. Gone is their top scorer from a year ago in Gordon Hayward. Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert is top-notch at the rim and on the roll, but isn’t exactly a diverse offensive talent. Enter Rodney Hood, Utah’s new, de facto go-to guy.

Whether or not he can shoulder Hayward’s former load remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the alpha dog role is his and, right off the bat, the Jazz are going to have their feet to the fire in determining his future with the organization.

Hood is set to hit free agency (restricted though it may be) for the first time next summer. One transitional season may not be the best sample size, but decision-time has already come. So, should the Jazz pay the man, or not?

According to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, Hood may be willing to sign an extension with the Jazz and bypass the free agent process altogether.

Says Kyler —

"Sources close to the situation said recently that Hood and his camp are very open to an extension. While Hood is expected to play a bigger role sans Hayward, there is a window over the next two months to lock Hood into a deal that might make more sense for the Jazz today than waiting until next July.The prevailing thought is something similar to what Evan Turner got from Portland (four-years $70 million) would lock in Hood for the next four years."

In that scenario, the Jazz could save themselves some financial aggravation should Hood blow up next season. See Gobert, Rudy. On the other hand, there’s risk involved there, and not just in terms of whether Hood can be a focal point for a high-level NBA offense.

This time, see Burks, Alec.

Back in October of 2014, the Jazz agreed to extend Burks’ contract for four years and up to $45 million with some incentives. At the time, the deal made a lot of sense; Burks was coming off a 2013-14 campaign during which he played in 78 games, averaging 14 points, three rebounds and three assists per contest while shooting 35 percent from 3-point range.

Since that time, Burks has played in just 100 of a possible 246 games thanks to multiple injuries. That’s less than a 40-percent attendance record for a player the Jazz were relying heavily on. Now, just three years after the big extension, one can’t help but wonder if that money could’ve been better spent or if he can return to his former level of efficacy.

Forget the big jump fans were hoping for back when he re-upped.

While Hood has been less banged-up than Burks, there’s still major cause for concern there. Of that same 246-game number, Hood has suited up for the Jazz 188 times. That’s a much healthier 76-percent clip, but the fact remains that he’s missed more than 20 games in two of his three professional seasons.

And even when he’s been on the court, injuries have had a lingering effect on his play.

Last season, he averaged 12.7 points per game while knocking down 40.8 percent of his field goals and just over 37 percent from deep. Those numbers may not be dire straits, but they’re decidedly middle of the road for a player many are looking to be a key cog offensively.

All that said, I’m left with a simple request — will the real Rodney Hood please stand up?

Historically speaking, is Hood the Sean Elliott type or the second coming of Calbert Cheaney? Like Hood, both were 6-foot-8, 205-pound guys with intriguing all-around skillsets coming out of college, but their careers in the league couldn’t have been more different.

Elliott was a solid No. 2 to David Robinson (later No. 3 with Tim Duncan’s arrival) for the San Antonio Spurs. He made two All-Star teams, grew into a 20-point scorer and was a high-level 3-point shooter and veteran presence in his latter years.

Could Hood fall into that role behind Gobert, the face of the Jazz franchise, or is he more like Cheaney? In other words, a high-level college player who peaked in year two, never shot or scored quite as well as you wanted him to and eventually settled into a journeyman role.

I tend to think he has a chance to be the former. Although some of the advanced metrics on Hood have been pretty average through three seasons, he’s shown himself to be a skilled scorer with potential as a closer when he’s been right physically.

Still, Cheaney’s ghost is lingering.

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So, while the Jazz can save themselves a potentially painful restricted free agency, they could also end up with buyer’s remorse once again. In any event, they’ve got until October 16 to make something happen.

Here’s hoping they’ve done their homework.