Posts Tagged ‘Utah Jazz’

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Gordon Hayward wants you to know that the decision to sign with the Boston Celtics was his and his alone.

The widespread narrative was that he wanted to reunite with former Butler head coach Brad Stevens. While the two are close, Hayward is adamant the bond between player and coach has been blown out of proportion, and may not have been the determining factor in him leaving the Utah Jazz in free agency.

“The relationship between Brad and I has been completely overstated and overhyped from everybody,” Hayward said during a recent appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Woj Pod.”

“And you mentioned it. There was always rumors about going to Boston, and those, to me, were always just rumors. I didn’t really ever think about it, because I wasn’t a free agent, wasn’t really concerned with the Boston thing. But everybody else was saying, ‘Oh, he’s going to go to Boston because of Brad.’ And we had a great relationship, but it wasn’t like we were constantly texting each other or calling each other. He’s the head coach of the Boston Celtics. He’s got things to worry about.

“I played for Brad for two years. And so it wasn’t like everybody kind of made it seem, like we were besties or something.”

In Hayward’s Players’ Tribune piece he penned to announce his decision to join the Celtics, the 27-year-old referred to Stevens as the one he “could count on the most,” and asserted the two have unfinished business together in the form of winning a championship, which they failed to do as Bulldogs.

The path of least resistance to that title comes in the Eastern Conference, and earning $128 million over four years to make a go of it isn’t bad either. Still, it’s hard to imagine Hayward choosing Boston if Stevens weren’t there, no matter how he wants to paint the picture.

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 NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Gordon Hayward is officially bound for Beantown, with the Boston Celtics announcing Friday they signed the prized unrestricted free agent.

After spending the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward tested the open market for the first time this summer, meeting with his incumbent team in addition to the Celtics and Miami Heat.

In a saga documented by his agent, Mark Bartelstein, Hayward changed his mind multiple times before making the “gut-wrenching” choice to leave the only club he’s ever known for greener pastures in Boston.

Hayward personally announced the decision with a post on The Players’ Tribune, indicating he thinks he can win a title with the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals this past season. The Indiana native is also excited to reunite with Brad Stevens, who was his coach at Butler and currently mans the sidelines for the men in green.

The Jazz and Celtics reportedly discussed sign-and-trade options involving Hayward and small forward Jae Crowder, but Danny Ainge ultimately elected against compensating his new star’s former club.

Although nothing materialized on that front, Boston did need to clear cap space in order to pay Hayward the max, so the organization shipped off starting shooting guard Avery Bradley – who has one year and $8.8 million left on his contract – to the Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics rolled out the red carpet for the 27-year-old Hayward, enhancing their recruiting meeting with a video at Fenway Park and appearances from stars he’d join in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.

Hayward’s coming off his best season yet, as he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and a steal over 73 games. He also earned his first All-Star nod and led the Jazz to the West semifinals.

In Boston, he’ll round out a talented Big Three and boost the club’s chances of taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers, who eliminated the Celtics in five games in the East finals.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings

The Boston Celtics jersey has been Photoshopped on his image, and the next chapter in Gordon Hayward‘s career is about to begin.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, despite all reports of Hayward “agonizing” over his decision to part ways with the Utah Jazz, the writing was very much all over the wall prior to his official announcement.

Brooklyn Nets forward and former Jazz player Trevor Booker told the Tribune the weight of having the Utah franchise on his shoulders was something Hayward never wanted.

“Gordon’s a guy who doesn’t really want to be the man,” Booker said. “… I’m not sure he wanted a franchise on his shoulders. Gordon’s a great player, and one of the best players in the league. But I wasn’t really surprised at his choice. I heard the rumors.”

As the Tribune outlines, the Jazz spent most of the past year trying to orchestrate the correct moves that would keep Hayward in Utah, which most recently prompted them to acquire point guard and expert playmaker Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a first-round draft pick.

While the Jazz worked on creating a strong core for Hayward, his inclinations to leave have been apparent to others since before this year’s draft. Sources told the Tribune that Hayward made it clear to teammate and friend George Hill in a phone call that returning to Utah “was nowhere close to guaranteed.”

Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks

Rudy Gobert plans to stay in Utah for the long haul.

While circumstances can certainly change, the 7-foot-1 Frenchman appears to have every intention of remaining with the Jazz for the entirety of his career.

“Yeah. Why not?” Gobert told Jody Genessy of the Deseret News.

“To me, I think it would be stupid for me to leave right now,” he added. “I really love the organization. I love to live in Salt Lake.”

With Gordon Hayward now in Boston, Gobert undoubtedly ranks as the Jazz’s top player after being voted to both the All-Defensive first team and the All-NBA second team this past season.

Even after enduring a rough offseason, Gobert has high hopes for the Jazz going forward and remains optimistic that Utah can capture a title one day.

“My vision is to win a championship,” Gobert said. “It hasn’t changed.”

The Stifle Tower is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (14), rebounds (12.8), and blocks (2.6), while shooting a blistering 66.1 percent from the floor.

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The Utah Jazz are one of the teams interested in trading for Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

The 26-year-old is reportedly on the market, something that makes sense given the Wolves’ need for shooting on their roster. Rubio has value as a player who has averaged 8.5 assists per game in his career, but he’s only a 37.5 percent shooter from the floor.

The Jazz have an outstanding free agent in point guard George Hill, but the rumored interest in Rubio may be unrelated. At this stage in his career, Rubio could be an ideal backup even if Utah were to retain Hill.

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Damian Lillard could see himself in La La Land and Salt Lake City.

The Portland Trail Blazers point guard was remarkably candid in a Twitter Q&A on Wednesday, revealing that if his current team no longer needed his services and it were up to him, he’d join the Utah Jazz or Los Angeles Lakers.

Though the clubs are in vastly different positions, they both could use a leader to run the point.

The Jazz dubbed George Hill their floor general this season, and he was solid when healthy but was sidelined for 33 games due to myriad injuries. Utah still managed to make the playoffs for the first time in five years and reach the semifinals. However, Hill’s future with the team is up in the air as he’s a free agent this offseason and the Jazz are more focused on keeping All-Star Gordon Hayward.

Meanwhile, sophomore guard D’Angelo Russell was thrown into the role for L.A., but he isn’t ready. The rebuilding Lakers finished 2016-17 near the bottom of the league standings for the fourth consecutive season and hope to pick up their future star at the one-spot in next week’s draft, where they’re set to make the No. 2 selection.

At 26 years old, Lillard doesn’t quite fit in with the Baby Lakers’ timeline. Regardless, it’s not hard to understand the lure of the Lake Show, what with the rich history, limelight, and endorsement deals. Plus, Lillard’s from nearby Oakland.

The two-time All-Star has four years and about $115.56 million remaining on his contract with Portland. He recorded a career-high 27 points to go along with 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 35.9 minutes per game for the Trail Blazers, who snuck into the playoffs but overall had a disappointing campaign.

Perhaps that prompted a change of heart. Last year, an L.A. fan asked Lillard to join the Lakers and he declined, saying he’s trying to replicate Kobe Bryant’s 20-year run in L.A. in Portland.

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Free agent Gordon Hayward is about to become a very wealthy man. And it may not be as a member of the Utah Jazz or the Boston Celtics, to whom he’s been linked for months.

The Miami Heat have now entered the fray as a dark horse candidate to land the 2017-18 All-Star wing, which is worrying the Jazz, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Miami has had a seat at the table in many free-agent conversations in recent years. With a tropical locale and favorable state income tax that leaves more money in the players’ pockets, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the organization swing for the fences with a big offseason acquisition.

With Chris Bosh‘s $25-million cap hold coming off the books because of career-ending health concerns, Pat Riley’s front office is going to have room to cut a major deal. That could include Hayward, who averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists this season.

Heat cornerstones Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic are under contract through at least the 2018-19 season, but key rotation players James Johnson and Dion Waiters are up for new deals. With a degree of financial flexibility, the Heat could conceivably target Hayward and retain one or both of Johnson and Waiters.

Adding Hayward wouldn’t make the Heat a legitimate contender, at least as long as a healthy LeBron James is patrolling the Eastern Conference, but it would move the them back toward playoff contention after missing the postseason for just the third time in 14 seasons.