Man, the NBA Draft is tomorrow, and NBA Free Agency is about a week away . . . but it seems to be Gordon Hayward day here at SLC Dunk. The Utah Jazz forward (guard?) (modern era 3/2/4?) (basketball player with a trendy haircut?) Gordon Hayward is the Utah Jazz' face of the franchise, he is their best player, their primary ball handler, their first option on offense, and their go-to guy in the clutch. He has played all of his career in Utah, and after six seasons he is one of the most highly regarded forwards in the league. He's not an All-star, but as far as these balanced offensive facilitators who can create their own shot, get to the line, and win some games, he is still very valuable. He's just probably more valuable outside of Utah.
Utah suffers from a number of problems, the primary one being the fact that they are not an NBA Playoffs participant. G-Time has played just four games in the post season in his career, in that the season where many teams tanked down the stretch and the Jazz went up from 12th out of 15 in the West to 8th over the last two months. Gordon Hayward has everything else a player wants. He is wealthy beyond means. He has a family. He has property all over the USA. He has time for his hobbies. He is loved by his home team, front office, and fan base. He's just not playing for a winner. And selfishly, he's probably not accurately regarded by casual NBA fans who never get to see him play.
Those last two things are immediately easier to get in other locations, like a big market. One such market is Boston. And surprise surprise, former BYU legend Danny Ainge is the GM of the Boston Celtics, and he has been trying to get Hayward, and possibly reunite him with his old NCAA coach, Brad Stevens.
ESPN sources say that the Celtics, so far, have been stifled in their attempts to turn the No. 3 pick into an established veteran via trade.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2016
Story going online details Boston's thwarted attempts to trade for Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward or either Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2016
Utah, sources say, is telling interested teams Gordon Hayward is unavailable. Ditto for Milwaukee with Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2016
Utah hasn't been buying what they are selling though. Apparently the Phoenix Suns are also very interested in G-Time.
But were equally rebuffed.
As an aside, the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Boston Celtics all being in trade talks for Gordon Hayward (even if the talks are fruitless) reminds me a lot of what we did in the SB Nation Blogger mock draft, but hey, what do we know?
@celticsblog I think NBA GMs have been reading the SBNation mock draft.— Mr. Dakota Schmidt (@Dakota_Schmidt) June 22, 2016
Self congratulations aside, Hayward could be on the move. Or it just could be a really interesting story to sell, even if Utah has no desire to move him. There are conflicting reports, of course.
Hayward has expressed his unhappiness in Utah and the Jazz are attempting to accommodate him per league sources...— Brian Geltzeiler (@hoopscritic) June 22, 2016
This is not accurate. https://t.co/DiKkPJsB5C— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 22, 2016
A source says Gordon Hayward has been "terrific" and insists there is no truth to the rumor that he has demanded a trade or will be traded.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 22, 2016
I've contacted multiple sources in the Jazz and who know Gordon Hayward. That trade rumor has zero merit.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 22, 2016
If Gordon Hayward is unhappy in Utah, he has a funny way of showing it. He chose to stay here this summer. He works out at ZBBC every day.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 22, 2016
Though, our beloved Jody Genessy does say 'a touché' here:
I will say this much re: Gordon Hayward and the Jazz. He is extremely competitive, badly wants to win and the team needs more talent.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) June 22, 2016
Which is more in line with my own personal reasoning. There's a clock that's ticking. As much as Gordon loves it here (or doesn't), as much as he is the face of the franchise, he has all of his needs met -- except for winning. If the Jazz do not make the playoffs this upcoming season it could a bad time for all parties involved: Gordon, the Jazz, and the fans.
I believe, completely, that Hayward could be one of the best "2nd bananas" in the modern era. I don't want to pay him to be that while masquerading as a top banana. He can be a star on a different team, and fulfill his own personal professional goals. I don't see it in Utah. And he's going to opt out in a year. It's not personal. It's business.
As for now, the rumors will continue. And I suspect the Jazz will do their best to keep him. And that starts with this NBA Draft where the team will eschew youth and try to move assets to add players to be in "win now" mode. (Because when there are three teams in the West who are locks to win 60+ games a year, it's clear that your lotto team should shift into "win now" mode.)