Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward to Heat “Whispers” Likely Unsubstantiated

Dec 1, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is fouled by Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Miami won 111-110. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is fouled by Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Miami won 111-110. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Recent reports have emerged connecting the Utah Jazz’s soon-to-be free agent Gordon Hayward with the Miami Heat, but is there any substance behind these so-called whispers?

Although there’s no denying that this season has been a fun one for the Utah Jazz (despite the constant frustrating bouts with injury), the one nerve-wracking undertone that has lingered along Utah’s great play this year has been the impending offseason which will see Gordon Hayward become an unrestricted free agent.

Sure, George Hill and Joe Ingles – two other important Jazz players – are set to hit free agency as well, but while it would be nice to keep them around, losing either one of them wouldn’t be nearly as devastating as parting with Hayward. He’s solidified himself as an All-Star and a key leader of this squad, thus the thought of him leaving in free agency is undoubtedly a frightening one.

Fortunately, there have been several positive signs that seem to indicate that Hayward will opt to remain with the Jazz, but of course nothing’s official until the ink hits the paper. Therefore, it stands to reason that any sign that seems to indicate that Hayward could indeed bolt in the offseason is likely to cause some angst among the Utah faithful.

One such sign arose yesterday when several reports emerged that claimed that there were “whispers” that Gordon Hayward could end up in Miami next season. These so-called reports stemmed from a piece from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that, quite honestly, had little to do with Hayward.

His article was focused on how far Phil Jackson and the Knicks organization still have to go if they hope to emulate the front office that Miami’s Pat Riley has constructed.

The part about Hayward was literally one sentence out of the whole piece that reads as follows:

"There are already whispers that if Utah can’t re-sign Gordon Hayward he could end up in Miami."

But of course, as is so common these days, one line was all it took to make speculation run rampant. Soon, seemingly every major sports news outlet was commenting on this supposed Hayward-to-Miami in free agency rumor. Heck, I guess I can’t get too bent out of shape about it because here I go commenting on it myself!

But hopefully in my case, it will be to shed some light on the hysteria.

First of all, as several folks pointed out on Twitter after the news hit the web, Isola failed to mention any particular source that may have produced the idea that Hayward was truly considering Miami. The use of the word “whispers” is extremely vague and really has no substance to it. “Whispers” could make for a nice name for a cat, but I hardly think it counts as a legitimate source attribution.

Furthermore, Salt City Hoops’ Spencer Wixom brought up an excellent point on Twitter as well, reminding worried fans that with the playoffs just around the corner and given Hayward’s focus on excelling in the postseason, there’s simply no way that he would go about distracting himself and others by discussing his offseason plans:

Therefore, while the rumor is definitely floating around, it’s clear that there is little proof to back up the statement made in the New York Daily News piece. This certainly isn’t the first Gordon Hayward rumor that’s come up (does anyone else feel like the Hayward-Stevens reunion rumor has been circling for about 10 years?!?!) and it surely won’t be the last.

Hayward’s solid play has made him a highly sought after player so it stands to reason that there will be several conversations, rumors and yes, perhaps some “whispers” that should be taken with nothing more than a grain of salt.

Could Gordon end up signing with the Miami Heat? Sure, why not? At this point and for all we know, he could end up signing with any one of the NBA’s 30 teams, including the Utah Jazz.

Hayward has made it clear that he wants to go where he has the best opportunity to win. He’s certainly starting to find that chance with the Jazz and his play has been a key part to Utah’s success. Thus, you can imagine that his focus is 100 percent on performing well and elevating this team as far as possible in the postseason.

With that being the case, I’d imagine that next season is pretty far from Hayward’s mind right now. Utah is in a great spot financially to keep him for next year and the Jazz front office has clearly shown that they want to put the right guys around him to win. Utah has jumped from the ninth-place team last season to a potential top-four team this year and Hayward has obviously been a major contributor to that success.

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So for anyone who found themselves worried about this latest rumor, take a deep breath and know that these whispers appear to be largely unfounded. Hayward has shown nothing but class in his time in Utah and an absolute respect for the organization. Therefore, I expect that he’ll have a great discussion with the Jazz front office following the season and the two parties will have an excellent opportunity to come to an agreement.

For now, though, rather than worry about rumors or what could or could not happen during the offseason, let’s simply enjoy the fact that, thanks largely to Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz are currently in fourth place in the West, are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and have a great shot to earn home court advantage and make some noise in the postseason.