Rudy Gobert wasn’t surprised Gordon Hayward signed with the Celtics.
But how Hayward left Utah?
Gobert has more thoughts on that.
Gobert, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
“You cannot be mad at somebody for wanting to play for another team,” Gobert told ESPN while watching the Jazz’s summer league team in Las Vegas. “It’s just the way he handled it, that’s the thing I didn’t like. I’m happy for him at the same time. I hope he’s going to be happy over there and get what he’s looking for.”
Hayward did not inform Gobert or other teammates before announcing that he was leaving for Boston.
“To all his teammates, all the guys that he competed with for years, guys that sacrificed for him and for the team, not necessarily tell us but make sure as a team we can keep going forward if he leaves,” said Gobert, who traveled to San Diego along with Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood the previous day for the Jazz’s pitch to Hayward. “I think that wasn’t the best way to do it, but I’m over it now. I’m just focused on the team.”
Criticizing a player for how, not that, he left a team has become the default copout answer.
There’s no perfect way for a star to leave a team. No matter how he does it, he’ll leave behind hurt feelings and people claiming their only problem is the process. Every time. It’s as if the process isn’t the problem.
To be fair, Hayward particularly flubbed the process, insisting he hadn’t made up his mind after the story broke then having his agent continue to stress how heartbroken Hayward was to leave Utah.
But Hayward was also just trying to inform the Jazz himself before they found out elsewhere, a gesture usually considered noble. Unless you buy that he truly was undecided all afternoon on July 4, he failed in that regard. But at least he tried. He also thanked Utah profusely in his Players Tribune essay, another gesture that typically draws praise.
Credit Gobert for stopping short of demanding a personal phone call. How many of your coworkers did you call when you left your last job?
But what did Hayward do to inhibit the Jazz from moving forward? He had neither the power nor incentive to force a sign-and-trade. Utah didn’t miss on any major free agents while Hayward deliberated. And Hayward decided before teams are allowed to officially enter contracts, anyway.
Gobert also denied the video he posted of himself singing along to Chris Brown’s “Loyal” shortly after Hayward announced his decision had anything to do with Hayward:
“I was just listening to music,” Gobert said, suppressing a smile. “I always do that. I always listen to music in my car and put up videos.”
I believe that as much as I believe there was a way for Hayward to leave without Gobert feeling salty.