The Miami Heat quietly have a great shot at stealing Gordon Hayward in free agency.
Hayward is the crown jewel of the free-agent class provided guys like Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry don’t pull jaw-dropping moves. He’s one of the best pure scorers at the 3 and one of the biggest reasons the Utah Jazz competed in the Western Conference.
Conventional wisdom suggests Hayward is a great fit with the Boston Celtics because of need and he’d reunite with college head coach Brad Stevens.
But that ignores the powers of Pat Riley and the Heat, a team Hayward already has a meeting with, per Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune: “According to reports, Hayward will meet with the Miami Heat on Saturday.”
The report goes on to note that Hayward already has his list down to three:
Hayward has three teams on his wish list: the Jazz, Heat and Boston Celtics. League sources say Hayward wants to take his meetings, and make a decision in short order. The Heat and Celtics are expected to offer him a four-year max contract. The Jazz, as the incumbent team, are expected to offer Hayward a five-year max contract.
Hayward sticking with the Jazz isn’t outlandish considering the way the team competed last year and the presence of top-five center Rudy Gobert.
But players trust Riley to build contenders well. He’s the man who pulled off The Decision and already has Hassan Whiteside and cap flexibility. Add in a location able to lure other superstars to town and it would be wise for fans to keep an eye on the Heat right about now.