The Utah Jazz clinched their first playoff birth 2012, and fell short in Conference SemiFinals. Will Gordon Hayward depart Utah in his free agency?
Originally drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 9th overall pick in 2010, Hayward has finally found himself to be a real presence on the court. Now in his 7th season, the young forward is ready to contend for a title, can he reach his goals in Utah? I believe his future will rely on the Jazz’ success in this upcoming post-season. Here are some teams that have already taken interest in signing Hayward, should the Jazz fail to resign him:
The Boston Celtics
are currently the front-runners in the rumored race for this contract. Currently competing for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston is ready to remind fans why they are nicknamed Titletown. Should things not go well this post season, or even if they do, the Celtics will look to make one more addition to their very qualified starting lineup.
A stretch forward like Hayward would nearly fix any remaining issues for the Celtics. They are in desperate need of someone who can stretch the floor to his extent, and more three-point shooting. Hayward is facing a huge contract from the Jazz should he stay, maybe upwards of $175 million. That’s not something Boston will be able to match, so it will be on him to take a pay cut, should he choose to play for the Celtics.
I won’t make any judgement calls on our friend Gordon, who knows. He may very well want to contend that he turns down an amazing offer from the team that raised him (rhymes with Shmurant.)
The Miami Heat
are the latest team to be included in the rumors surrounding this soon to be free agent, and it makes complete sense. Pat Riley’s history of success, and Miami’s features that make it a top free agent destination could certainly draw him in.
Originally, the Heat started out 11-30 and have now gone on one of the most impressive recovery in recent years, and ended their season at 41-41. Hassan Whiteside is one of the top centers in this league, and Goran Dragic needs some back up to find his stride. Adding Gordon Hayward to the lineup would even further push this franchise to the greatness it’s formerly found.
I’m a firm believer that should the Jazz fail to resign Hayward, he would take a real look at Miami. Wouldn’t you want to play alongside the likes of Dion Waiters?
The Oklahoma City Thunder
are a less likely suitor for Hayward in free agency, but I like to toy with possibilities. I’m sure the Thunder will take a look, but it has to be hard to convince someone to play with the walking and talking triple-double. However, the Thunder have shown prior interest, as a Kanter/Hayward swap was rumored before the start of this season.
The loss of Kevin Durant made a real gap in the OKC starting lineup. They need a stretch forward, and anyone that can shoot threes. Hayward is only averaging .395 from behind the arc, but Oladipo (arguably the Thunder’s best deep shot) is only shooting .381. Adding another definite scorer who can create his own shot, like Westbrook, would do nothing but make this team better. In addition, he’s a great passer, and OKC certainly needs help with overall ball movement.
Gordon Hayward signing with the Thunder would be great move for both sides. The Oklahoma front office certainly has the space to provide him with a max contract, and I don’t think anyone in this league wants to win more than Russell Westbrook.
The Utah Jazz
are looking at a lot of extensions this summer. The likes of Rodney Hood, George Hill, and Rudy Gobert come to mind. It’s possible they may mix up their priorities and let a top-5 free agent walk out. A young player constantly moving forward with his game, expect the interest level to be very high come this summer.
All information and stats provided by ESPN, CBS Sports, and NBA.com. Featured image provided by the Salt Lake Tribune.