Gordon Hayward will have plenty of suitors on the free agent market. Conventional wisdom had the Boston Celtics making a legitimate run for the All-Star swingman, but a new contender may have emerged: the Miami Heat.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Utah Jazz are concerned that the Heat might make a serious push for Hayward. Utah has spent much of the last six years rebuilding the team, where now it is considered a legitimate playoff squad in the Western Conference. In three weeks, that might not be the case.
Hayward seems like a fit in Boston, the place where Larry Bird called home. Most importantly, Hayward played for current Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler, and a reunion makes sense.
There is a lot to like about Miami, though. In addition to the weather and the lack of state taxes, few teams offer the management stability that the Heat does. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are a formidable duo as executive and coach. In fact, the pair landed LeBron James and Chris Bosh during the wild free agent frenzy of 2010.
There is an on-court component to this, as well. Like Utah, Miami plays defense and features a dominant big man–Hassan Whiteside in Miami and Rudy Gobert in Utah.
Miami is built to space the floor in a better manner, however. Unlike Gobert, who is the better defender of the two centers, Whiteside is far more capable on the offensive end. The Heat is also positioned well with Goran Dragic running the show as point guard.
Utah’s situation is less clear. George Hill is set to become a free agent, as well, and he spent a considerable amount of his tenure in Utah on the injury report. Derrick Favors might be on his way out, and Joe Johnson is near the end of his career. Outside of Gobert, question marks abound in Salt Lake City.
At the very least, Miami has–in addition to Riley and Spoelstra–Dragic, Whiteside, Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson. There is the right mix of youth and veterans, plus it’s Miami. The question might become, “Miami or Boston?” and not, “Will Hayward stay in Utah?”
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