Report: Heat potential Hayward destination

Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward's scoring average has increased in each of his four seasons, with a career-high 19.3 ppg last year.

Matt Medley

Matt Medley covers Ohio State basketball for AmicoHoops and various local sports for other outlets around Northeast Ohio.

Follow @MedleyHoops on Twitter.

Although the Utah Jazz currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, speculation continues to surround All-Star Gordon Hayward’s future.

Hayward can opt out of his contract following the 2016-17 season and he’ll be one of the most talented players potentially available on the market.

Days before the Feb. 23 Trade Deadline, Basketball Insiders revealed that an NBA executive believed Hayward’s decision was essentially down to a “two-horse race” between staying with the Jazz or teaming up with his college coach Brad Stevens in Boston.

A new report from Frank Isola of The New York Daily News added another wrinkle into the story Thursday, as the Miami Heat were mentioned as a new candidate to sign Hayward this summer.

Pat Riley has a home court advantage because Miami is a prime free agent destination. The weather, the zero state income tax and the chance to play for a top franchise are too good for a lot of players to turn down. There are already whispers that if Utah can’t re-sign Gordon Hayward he could end up in Miami.

– Frank Isola, New York Daily News

The term “whispers,” should be taken for what it’s worth, but given Miami’s impressive play since an 11-30 start to the season, it makes sense that the Heat could be viewed as one of the more appealing destinations.

Riley’s decision to let Dwyane Wade walk last summer was part of the plan to rebuild the team around Hassan Whiteside and the Heat will certainly have the cap space to add a star player, like Hayward.

As Isola notes, Miami has its own allure just from a geographical standpoint. (Talk about a night-and-day change from Utah)

We’ll hear more about Hayward’s options in the coming months, but for now, the Jazz are gearing up for a postseason appearance and look more than capable of getting out of the first round – something that could help strengthen the case for the small forward to stay in Utah.

About the Author

Matt Medley

Matt Medley covers Ohio State basketball for AmicoHoops and various local sports for other outlets around Northeast Ohio.

Follow @MedleyHoops on Twitter.