SALT LAKE CITY– All-Star Forward Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz has informed the team that he will be opting out of his contract and testing the open market. This announcement comes as no surprise due to the rumors that have been circulating that Hayward is Boston bound.
Opting out was the right move financially for Hayward as he was on the books for $16.73 million next year, and in free agency he will no doubt attract a 4 year $130 million max deal after a career year in which he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
Here are the top three potential destinations for Hayward.
1. Boston Celtics
The obvious favorite in the Hayward sweepstakes, Boston seems like a perfect fit. They have a team that is only a couple of pieces away from competing with the Cavs and the cap room to offer the max. This would also be a Butler reunion between Hayward and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
It is rumored that if the Celtics do land Hayward that they will push for a trade for Paul George as the last piece to dethrone Lebron in the East.
2. Utah Jazz
If Hayward does decline to sign with the Celtics or if the Celtics go after Blake Griffin instead, his next best option is to stay put and re-up with the Jazz on a new max contract. The Jazz won 51 games last year and made it to the second round of the playoffs, retaining their star should be their top offseason priority.
3. Miami Heat
The Heat were a team that almost snuck in the playoffs last year. They have a near elite center in Hassan Whiteside and an emerging Dion Waiters, along with a veteran point guard in Goran Dragic. They have a good batch of role players in Tyler and James Johnson. Hayward could be the piece that could vault Miami into contention in the East.
My Prediction: Boston Celtics
This match is almost too good to be true. The Celtics need another scorer to pair with Isaiah Thomas and Hayward can be that guy. Hayward and Brad Stevens are still very close and talk often. I’ll be extremely surprised if Hayward is wearing a Jersey that doesn’t have a shamrock on it next year.