Jazz reportedly worried about both Heat, Celtics’ pursuit of Gordon Hayward

Jazz reportedly worried about both Heat, Celtics’ pursuit of Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward is now also linked to the Miami Heat. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Gordon Hayward is now also linked to the Miami Heat. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Many expect Gordon Hayward to opt out of his contract with the Jazz for next season and join forces with his former Butler coach Brad Stevens, but according to ESPN, the Heat may also have a shot at signing him.

Earlier this week, Jazz coach Quin Snyder told Adrian Wojnarowski he believes Utah’s position is an “attractive” one, and that the team feels good about the possibility of keeping him.

The rumors in NBA circles, though, are that Hayward will choose to opt out of his $16.7 million player option for the 2017-18 season and take his talents elsewhere. While he was named to his first All-Star team last season, failing to make any of the All-NBA teams restricts the Jazz’ ability to offer him a “supermax” contract.

Utah can still offer the 27-year-old the most money, but it appears that both the Heat and Celtics have a better chance at signing him.

The case for Hayward to come to Boston has already been made. Falling to the Cavs in the Conference Finals, the Celtics could certainly benefit from signing a two-way player like Hayward in free agency and they have the cap room to do so.

Miami is another intriguing option, though, as the Heat narrowly missed the playoffs last year. Adding Hayward to a core that includes Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow, and Hassan Whiteside could make the Heat relevant in the East playoff picture again.

The Heat are projected to have $37 million in cap space when free agency hits on July 1, and much is the case every summer, Pat Riley will keep Miami in the hunt for all marquee free agents.

Riley, who has won five NBA championships as a coach and three more as an executive, seemed to back away from an interest in looking for outside help in statements he made following the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.

“Today, it’s a lot different, and for any great player who plays with a team is going to have to give great pause to probably walk away from $65 to $70 million or whatever the number might be to go somewhere else,” Riley said. “He’s going to really have to want to come to you or he’s going to want to leave where he is.”

Instead, he said, his focus would be on the players currently on the Heat’s roster.

“We’re going to focus on our guys,” he said. “We’re going to really focus on this group of guys. I think first thing is first are to really focus in on our team and we’ll always observe what’s going on in free agency. We do have that flexibility.”

After his failed pursuit of Kevin Durant last summer, Riley’s newfound aggressive pursuit of Hayward should be unsurprising. What matters now is who wins the Hayward sweepstakes: the Celtics or the Heat?



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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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