It has become apparent that Utah Jazz forward Rodney Hood will hit the free agency market next year. Tony Jones of Salt Lake Tribune reported on Sunday that Hood, barring a last-minute deal, will begin his fourth NBA season without a contract extension. He will have the option to hit the free agency market as restricted free agent in 2018 or accept the Jazz’s qualifying offer allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

High-risk, high-reward move

The 24-year-old Hood is set to assume a bigger role with the Jazz following the departure of All-Star Gordon Hayward.

He hopes a strong campaign in the 2017-18 NBA season will lead to a max contract deal, which is something the Utah front-office is reluctant to hand out at the moment. According to Jones, the Jazz remain high on Hood and intend to match any offer sheet should the young player stay healthy and show more consistency offensively.

That said, it’s still a risky move for Hood to bet on himself this season. Injuries are the biggest threat to any player’s big payday aspirations. Unfortunately for Hood, he had some lingering issues with his knee over his first three seasons in Utah.

According to a league source, Hood could have avoided the hassle of free agency if he had accepted the Jazz’s initial offer of $84 million over four years, which is the same contract the Denver Nuggets gave to shooting guard Gary Harris.

Hood apparently wanted more money so he decided to take his chances this season.

More news out of Utah

Dante Exum, who is also eligible for a contract extension, is looking for an alternative to surgery after suffering a separated shoulder with ligament damage in the preseason. The prospect of a surgery only means the Aussie point guard will have to sit out the entire 2017-18 NBA season.

The 22-year-old Exum averaged 6.2 PPG on 42 percent shooting during the 2016-17 NBA season, which is his first full season after suffering an ACL injury.

Even prior to the shoulder injury, Exum was not expected to receive a contract extension. However, some in the Jazz front office are still optimistic the guard can bounce back from another devastating injury and reach his full potential.

The Jazz also inched closer to reaching the 15-player roster limit after waiving Naz Mitrou-Long. Mitrou-Long is expected to join Utah’s G-League affiliate club, the Salt Lake City Star. The latest cut-down dropped the roster number to 18, with two of these players on two-way deals. The Jazz are now down to one more move before they reach the limit.