Priority 1: Re-sign Gordon Hayward
If the Jazz are going to have any hope of contending in the loaded West, it is going to start with Gordon Hayward. He is their number one priority.
When Hayward was drafted with the ninth pick of the 2010 draft, I don’t think anybody pegged him as a future star in this league. Fast forward seven years, and he has improved each and every season to get to where he is today. He finished this year as an All-Star, with averages of 22 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He is also an underrated defender who is capable of defending guards and forwards.
Gordon Hayward has made it clear to this team that he wants to be in a winning situation and his teammate, Joe Ingles, recently reiterated that fact when he said the following:
"”Coming from that little scrawny, shaggy-haired kid that wasn’t really playing (and grew) into an All-Star. I truly believe he really likes it here. He loves the organization and the team. At the end of the day, for him, it’s about winning. … Obviously, the organization is committed to that. The next step is getting that team around him.”"
If Hayward wants to win, then it really comes down to two teams: The Boston Celtics or the Utah Jazz.
The dots are easy to connect.
Of course Gordon Hayward would want to go play with Boston so he could reconnect with his former college coach Brad Stevens – the man who recruited him out of High School before he grew another six inches and other colleges came calling.
Looking beyond that, the Celtics are one of the few winning teams who have the cap space to offer max money to Hayward. He would join a 53-win team who went to the Eastern Conference Finals and would slide seamlessly between Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford.
And they have the number 1 pick in the draft, and still own Brooklyn’s first round pick for next season.
All in all, it would be hard to criticize the decision to join a team like that.
Utah is still an attractive destination, though, and after seeing the way the Cavs dominated the Celtics, maybe Boston won’t seem as attractive.
If he values winning, then Utah is a perfect situation. The Jazz won 51 games in a tougher conference. He would be able to remain with an organization, coach and players that he has grown accustomed to. The top talent on the Jazz is also much younger than that of the Celtics.
Heading into contract negotiations, the Jazz will likely give him any contract he would like. The three most likely options are going to be:
- Two-Year Max with a player option after the first year. This will give Hayward another year to try and make one of the All-NBA Teams and qualify for the “Super Max.”
- Four-Year Max with a player option after the third year. Once Gordon Hayward hits his 10th season in the NBA, he would once again qualify for a larger veterans max contract.
- Full Five-Year Max. One advantage the Jazz have over any other team, is they can offer Hayward a 5-year deal verses a 4-year deal.
At the end of the day, the Jazz know their best chance of winning next season relies on Hayward returning, and they will take whatever steps necessary to make that happen.
For now, all Jazz fans can do is hope that Hayward stays, and start thinking about a new state haircut to model if he leaves. I’m rooting for the “Rudy Gobert.”