The NBA appears primed for a crazy offseason with a number of stars set to hit the free agent market. Kevin Durant, Paul Millsap, Dwyane Wade, and Gordon Hayward all have player options for 2017-18 that they are expected to decline in order to get a new long-term deal, either with their current team or elsewhere.
Most assume Durant will re-sign with the Warriors, but the other four are expected to at least look elsewhere before locking in with their current team again. For example, Utah is the favorite to retain Hayward’s services, as the Jazz are one of the league’s up-and-coming teams in the Western Conference. However, there will be plenty of teams trying to woo Hayward, as he’ll be the best wing player on the market once Durant is locked down.
The Celtics could be a possible landing spot for Hayward, as he has a close relationship with coach Brad Stevens from their Butler days, but the Celtics won’t be alone in pursuing Hayward. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, there are “whispers” that Hayward could end up going to the Miami Heat if he doesn’t stay in Utah.
The Heat will certainly have the money to land Hayward and after their late season surge to make a playoff push (currently seventh in the East), they could see themselves as a star away from being a contender. With Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside locked up at point guard and center respectively, the logical move for the Heat is to look for help on the wing, and Hayward would certainly be the best available option.
Whether Hayward would see the sunny beaches of Miami and the Heat roster as an upgrade over the Jazz or a potential reunion with Stevens is unknown, but the Heat can certainly make an intriguing pitch, and we know Pat Riley is pretty good at luring free agents.
This will be a very exciting offseason because of the stars on the free agent market and the trade market (hello, Jimmy Butler). Plenty of teams have money to throw around and everyone on the fringe of contention will be looking to add pieces to take the next step towards challenging the Warriors, Spurs and Cavs.