Gordon Hayward is expected to exercise his player option to become a free agent this summer, and while the Utah Jazz are confident they’ll be able to re-sign him, the All-Star forward might have his eyes set on two other destinations.
Reports have already surfaced that the Boston Celtics plan to make Hayward their top priority in free agency.
Hayward and Celtics coach Brad Stevens, of course, have a great rapport with one another as Stevens coached Hayward when the two were at Butler University. Many executives around the league believe Hayward’s strong connection with Stevens is going to be the x-factor that sways Hayward to sign with Boston.
ESPN, however, is reporting that the Miami Heat will pursue Hayward as well. The Jazz are as concerned with the ability of Miami to sign Hayward as they are with the Celtics.
Free Agency Scuttle: Volume is rising on the whispers that the team worrying Utah in Gordon Hayward's free agency is Miami as much as Boston
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 9, 2017
Shortly after ESPN published their report, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald revealed in his column that a source connected with Hayward said that Hayward has legitimate interest in joining the Heat.
If Hayward opts out and re-signs with the Jazz, he’ll make close to $176 million over five years. If he signs with another team, Hayward can get a four-year contract worth around $132 million.
Friendly reminder: Hayward can make more money in South Beach than in Boston since Florida is a no state income tax state.
Gordon Hayward is coming off his best season in the NBA. The 27-year-old averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this year while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.8 percent beyond the arc.
It’s time for the Jazz to start worrying about Hayward’s free agency. While he seems like a loyal guy, the chance to either play in a big market like Boston or for a great system and culture like the Heat have built, might be too much for Hayward to pass up.