The Utah Jazz were one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA this season. Built around a core that included young stars like Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward, the Jazz played stingy defense and looked like they could be a headache for some of the best teams out West for years to come, even though they were swept by Golden State in the Western Conference Semifinals.
There’s just one problem: The team could look a lot different next year. Gobert is back, as are many of the other players – guys like Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson, and Rodney Hood – who made this season possible. But two members of the starting five, Hayward and George Hill, could be gone this offseason.
Hill is an unrestricted free agent, while Hayward has the option to opt out of the final year of his deal. According to Hill, the decision that Hayward ultimately makes very well could play a role in his decision.
Hayward is coming off of his first All-Star Game, is only 27, and led Utah in scoring this season. He is going to get a massive payday if he decides to test the open market, which looks likely. In addition to Utah, Hayward is reportedly interested in the Miami Heat, plus rumors of a contract with the Boston Celtics have been swirling. Boston, of course, is coached by Brad Stevens, who coached Hayward at Butler.
Hill, meanwhile, had the best season of his nine-year NBA career with in 2016-17. After coming over in a trade this past offseason, Hill averaged a career-high 16.9 points per game with Utah. He had some injury concerns, but for the most part, his one year with the Jazz has been a success.
Utah is one of the most promising teams in the league, largely because of Hayward and Hill. If both of them leave town this offseason, the Jazz could be in for a major step back next season.
(Via Bleacher Report)