UPDATE: Gordon Hayward’s Free Agency Tour ends Monday; Heat, Celtics, Jazz await decision

 

All that’s left for Gordon Hayward is The Decision. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

ORLANDO – Free agent Gordon Hayward had his final meeting Monday, sitting down with officials from the only team he has played for during his seven-year NBA career.

Hayward met with the Utah Jazz in San Diego for 3.5 hours, according to ESPN,  and left without a decision as to whether he will return to Utah or sign with the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics. Included in the meeting was new point guard Ricky Rubio, who flew in from Spain.

Reports during the day indicated Hayward still laboring over the decision.

Hayward traveled to Miami and Boston during the weekend, but had the Jazz delegation travel to San Diego, where the Haywards have a home.

Most reports have Hayward making his decision Tuesday or Wednesday.

Utah’s pitch was different from those of Pat Riley and the Heat on Saturday and Danny Ainge and the Celtics on Sunday. The Jazz are attempting to retain a player who is very familiar with the organization, the coaches and players and the city.

     Miami and Boston pulled out stops to welcome the 6-foot-8 swingman, who is coming off his first All-Star season, and familiarize him with the organizations and the cities.

Hayward, 27, was greeted with a banner of his likeness as he and his wife, Robyn, drove up to AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. In Boston, they were taken to an empty Fenway Park where they were welcomed on the video screen and shown a video highlighting the franchise’s rich history.

The Jazz sent owner Gail Miller and her family, GM Dennis Lindsey, coach Quin Snyder, team president Steve Starks and a group of players to meet with Hayward in San Diego.

“We feel good because of the city and the organization, the level of the team, Quin, the development staff, Rudy,” Lindsey, referring to center Rudy Gobert, told the Deseret News prior to the meeting.

“We’re quite confident. We’ll see what that means. We’ll find out if that’s overconfident or appropriately placed.”

The Jazz did not have to convince Hayward that they have made significant strides. He has been a big reason the team went from 25 to 38 to 40 to 51 wins the last four years. Utah was fifth in the Western Conference last season and defeated the Clippers in seven games in the first round before being swept by eventual champions Golden State in the conference semifinals.

    Miami and Boston, meanwhile, spent a good portion of their meetings talking to Hayward about how he is a significant missing piece and how he will fit into their structure.

The Celtics attempted to sell Hayward how joining a 53-win team that advanced to the conference finals before losing in five-games to Cleveland could put them over the hump and into the Finals.

The Heat, meanwhile, had to convince Hayward they are more like the team that had the second-best record (30-11) in the league during the second half of the season – better than Boston – and not the one that started 11-30. Miami could also sell Hayward on the fact that he would be the No. 1 option and play with a point guard like Goran Dragic who is more apt to share the ball than Boston’s shoot-first point guard, Isaiah Thomas.

And both teams can gang up on Utah, pointing out how the West, already a much more powerful conference, got much stronger this summer with All-Stars Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap leaving the East either through trades or free agency.

Utah, with Hayward, could be at best No. 5 on paper in the West and even that could be debated. Put Hayward on Boston or Miami and both could have an argument they are No. 2 in the conference, the Celtics’ case being much stronger.

Hayward would be the lone Western Conference star to go to the Eastern Conference this summer if he joins Boston or Miami.

The wooing of Hayward has been played out in social media. Three star players, one from each team, became involved in an emoji war on Twitter over the weekend, each trying to promote his team.

Gobert kicked it off by suggesting the Heat are garbage, the Celtics are a pile of poop and the Jazz win trophies.

Boston’s Thomas countered by pointing out the Jazz have never won a title, the Heat have won three and Boston has 17 championships.

Miami’s Hassan Whiteside then limited that to titles won this century, of which Miami has three, Boston one and the Jazz none.

But emoji wars and fans’ takes on social media will not determine where Hayward signs. What will is everything he and his wife have heard in the last three days and soon they will share that with the rest of us.

[Miami target of a racist and ignorant taunt from Utah, Boston journalists]

[Could a weakened Eastern Conference push Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz?]

[Mailbag: Could the Miami Heat pull off a sign-and-trade if they land Gordon Hayward?]

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Could a weakened Eastern Conference push Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz?

ORLANDO — As the Heat wait to hear Gordon Hayward’s decision, the Eastern Conference continues to weaken.

Even before the start of free agency, Indiana traded four-time All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma City and Chicago traded three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Since free agency began, Paul Millsap has left the Hawks to sign with the Nuggets.

Just with those transactions, the Heat have a chance to move past the Pacers, Bulls and Hawks in the East’s power rankings. After finishing as the ninth-best team in the conference last season, that would probably be enough to push Miami into the group of eight East teams that make the playoffs even if the Heat just brought back last season’s core. Continue reading “Could a weakened Eastern Conference push Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz?”

Could the Boston Celtics trade have reaching impact on Miami Heat when it comes to Gordon Hayward?

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are considered the biggest threats to convince free agent small forward Gordon Hayward to leave Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics are set to add another small forward to a roster that already includes starter Jae Crowder and emerging Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick a year ago.

Whether that player is Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum or even Jimmy Butler, who could be Danny Ainge’s end game, stockpiling more picks to throw at the Bulls for the All-Star forward, Boston will be deep at the position.

How does this relate to the Miami Heat?

If Gordon Hayward leaves Utah, Boston appears to be the Heat’s biggest competition for the 6-foot-8 small forward. Recent reports have the Jazz just as concerned about the Heat as they are the Celtics – who are coached by Hayward’s college coach, Brad Stevens – in their attempt to retain Hayward. And you know Pat Riley is going to walk into a hotel room, probably on July 1, and throw down a sack of championship rings to start his recruiting pitch.

Riley can also say the position is wide open. Justise Winslow is the only true small forward on the Heat roster and he would make for a nice sixth man. But this is more about the Celtics, who are creating quite a logjam at the spot and now may be better served spending their free agent dollars on another position.

Boston still will make the case that with Crowder, Brown and either Jackson or Tatum, Hayward will be the unquestioned top dog at the position and the top offensive threat. Still, four small forwards is excessive. And if the Celtics are angling for Butler, why would they want to eventually be paying max money to two players who play the same position? Butler could move to shooting guard but Avery Bradley has emerged at that position.

Boston may then decide to refocus its free agency plan and target a power forward – a position of much greater need – like Blake Griffin or Paul Millsap.

Also in the Heat’s favor are reports that Hayward has concerns about playing with a ball-dominant point guard like Isaiah Thomas. In Miami, he would be teaming up with a drive-and-kick point guard in Goran Dragic and a shooting guard like Josh Richardson, whose main focus will be defense.

The Heat are in the game already when it comes to Hayward. Maybe the Celtics just opened that window a bit wider.

[Mailbag: Should the Heat pursue a trade for Paul George?]

[Justise Winslow gives back to hometown of Houston with free camp]

[Collins, Giles, Jackson, Kennard, Mitchell leading way among players linked to Heat pick]

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Paul Millsap plans to opt out, enter free agency this summer. Should the Heat be interested?

Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts to a play during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

As the Heat wait for the start of free agency in a couple of months, Paul Millsap didn’t wait to make his intentions known.

After the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Wizards last week, Millsap said Saturday that he plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent July 1. But the 32-year-old power forward also mentioned that he hopes to return to the Hawks.

“Eventually I probably will opt out, yes,” Millsap said to reporters in Atlanta. “But I want to be here. I think talks have been pretty good, so we’ll see what happens.”

Is Millsap a player the Heat should target? Continue reading “Paul Millsap plans to opt out, enter free agency this summer. Should the Heat be interested?”

Mailbag: Should the Miami Heat make a move for Paul Millsap?

Derrick Williams #22 of the Miami Heat defends against Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 7, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Derrick Williams #22 of the Miami Heat defends against Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 7, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With the trade deadline getting closer, rumors are starting to pop up.

Paul Millsap is the hot name this week. Should the Heat make a move to land the All-Star forward?

We answered that question and more in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). Continue reading “Mailbag: Should the Miami Heat make a move for Paul Millsap?”