Rumor: Jazz fear Heat as Gordon Hayward challenger

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Jazz could have possibly kept Gordon Hayward off the market if he made an All-NBA team.

Alas, he didn’t – and now suitors are coming from all angles.

It’s not just the Celtics, who boast Hayward’s college coach in Brad Stevens, a strong present and a brighter future with those Nets picks. The Heat are also a contender for Hayward.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Heat president Pat Riley said he was taking a new approach, forgoing “whale hunting” to keep the team’s core in tact. Maybe old habits die hard – though for good reason.

Hayward would be a big upgrade between Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic. Players like Dion Waiters and James Johnson overachieved last year, but retaining them will cost more money, and there’s no guarantee they duplicate their career years. Hayward is a proven star and, at 27, young enough to maintain his production.

Miami can offer a great basketball culture, warm weather and a state with no income tax. It’s appealing.

Still, Utah can offer more money and would probably be a better team with Hayward than the Heat would. The Jazz’s organizational culture is good, too.

Hayward will have multiple appealing options in free agency. It’s just a matter of what he prioritizes.