Gordon Hayward’s free agency has always been interesting. If the 27-year-old forward isn’t the best player on the market this summer, he’s on the short list and there are two obvious destinations for Hayward to choose from in his current team, the Utah Jazz, and the Boston Celtics. With that said, an additional suitor could be in the mix and, if true, Hayward’s decision becomes even more intriguing.
Marc Stein of ESPN brings word that the Miami Heat “worry” the incumbent Jazz as much as the Celtics do and, even on its surface, that is a fascinating thought. Boston boasts the theoretical ability to contend for an NBA Championship in the near future and, of course, would pair Hayward with his college coach in Brad Stevens. On the flip side, the Heat likely would not present Hayward with the opportunity to win at the same level as Boston or even Utah, with no implicit advantages (albeit with a great coach in Erik Spoelstra) outside of the opportunity to live in a gorgeous city on a full-time basis.
It is important to note that, in the midst of any speculation, the Jazz can offer a fifth year and a higher annual contract value than any other team. In addition, Hayward’s entire career has been spent in Salt Lake City and Utah’s strides as a team were quite evident during a very successful 2016-2017 season. Still, it is at least possible that the Jazz are at least approaching their ceiling as currently constructed and Hayward may be looking for greener pastures elsewhere. The Celtics would provide the best basketball situation but, as many NBA players can attest, there is something to be said for living and working in Miami.