The Utah Jazz will have their hands full fending off the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics for the services of Gordon Hayward.
Can Pat Riley work more of his magic voodoo to land another marquee free agent? It appears that the Celtics aren’t the only players for Gordon Hayward as the Miami Heat will also try their hand at signing the Jazz All-Star forward.
Marc Stein of ESPN has reported that Miami has a legitimate chance to convince Hayward to sign with South Beach.
"“But sources told ESPN.com that the Jazz regard the Heat as no less a threat to lure Hayward away than the Celtics, whose interest in the former Butler star has been anticipated for some time largely thanks to the presence of Hayward’s college coach, Brad Stevens, on Boston’s bench.”"
The only advantage the Jazz have in terms of retaining Hayward is from a financial vantage point. Utah can offer Hayward the most money by dangling a max deal worth five years and approximately $180 million. The most another team can pay him is four years and around $133 million.
On the other hand, Miami is a wonderful city with the beautiful weather. Florida also has no state tax, so Hayward will likely make up some of that difference in a potential contract with the Heat. If Miami does somehow land Gordon Hayward, they will also be tasked with retaining Dion Waiters, who is an impending free agent. Never underestimate Riley, who has successfully landed big fish free agents in the past including LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
The Celtics also appear to be serious contenders to land the former Butler hoops star. Speaking of Butler, Hayward played his collegiate ball for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens where the duo played in a national championship game together. Playing for his former college coach, who is regarded as one of the brightest NBA minds, is going to be tough to say no to
Like Miami, playing in a big market city over small market Salt Lake City will likely also play into the hands of the Celtics and their chances to land Hayward. Let’s not forget the Celtics are also fresh off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and hold the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It’s safe to say no one would be shocked if Hayward departs for another team. Getting out of the Western Conference to avoid the Warriors may also be a wise move considering LeBron and the Cavaliers seem to be aging fast.