SALT LAKE CITY — George Hill likes Utah and enjoys playing for the Jazz. The Jazz like Hill and enjoy having him play for them.
It's quite possible the two will continue their relationship past this season. It just won't be known if that will happen until July.
Hill and the Jazz engaged in a brief negotiation discussion in recent weeks, but the two sides will not come to a contract extension agreement before Tuesday's 9:59 p.m. MST deadline, according to sources.
This means Hill will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason for the first time in his nine-year career.
It doesn't mean that Hill and the Jazz are so far apart on financial terms that the two can't find common ground to work on during the 2017 free agency period. Hill has built a solid relationship with fellow Indianapolis native Gordon Hayward and has thrived in the Jazz system despite having nagging thumb and big toe injuries this season.
The Jazz are unquestionably a stronger team with Hill at the helm. Heading into Tuesday's game at Oklahoma City, Utah was 25-9 with the 30-year-old in the starting lineup. On top of that, Hill and Hayward have led Utah to a 22-6 record and the Jazz were 12-1 with Hill, Hayward, Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert in the same starting rotation.
The 6-foot-2 playmaker, known for being a crafty offensive guard and a feisty defender, is averaging 17.7 points, 4.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds for the Northwest Division-leading Jazz.
Signing Hill will be one of the top two priorities for the Jazz this offseason. The likelihood of that happening will increase if Utah can lock down its No. 1 priority this summer — re-signing Hayward, assuming he opts out of the fourth year of his contract.
Hill will be a coveted player in the free-agency market, though. He's likely to be pursued by at least a dozen teams this offseason, per sources.
Utah has an edge over the other teams, though. The Jazz can sign Hill for a five-year deal, while other teams would only be able to give him four years as an unrestricted free agent.
Hill is making $8 million in the final year of his current deal.