Gordon Hayward is a free agent and he could go anywhere
Former scrawny Indiana kid, Gordon Hayward is set to be a free agent this off-season for the first time in his career. With seven seasons in Utah, many focus on a scenery change for the 2017 All-Star centered around one team in particular, but Hayward would be wise to consider all of his options. After a career high in points per game, field goal percentage and rebounds, the 27 year old could uproot or just stay home. Each team that is on this list have either been rumored or concocted in my head. On a scale from 1 to 10, fit, need, and overall likelihood will be rated. For those who want a shot at Hayward, good luck this summer.
The “it would be cool and there is a fit but no possible way” list:
Too much invested in Winslow plus the poison pill of Tyler Johnson really screws up a potential move to the Heat. Yet, Pat Riley still sits waiting in the wings.
New Orleans Pelicans
Solomon Hill, Omer Asik and E’Twaun Moore will make over $31 million next year. I’ll take Hayward over all three but the Pelicans can’t do anything about it.
The Real Options:
Overall Likelihood: 1/10
The Raptors need another wing player and a scorer to pair with DeRozan, especially if they do not resign point guard Kyle Lowery to a max contract. The forward position has been rough for the Raptors the past few years with the likes of DeMarre Carroll not living up to his contract. P.J. Tucker provided a tenacity and toughness for this playoff run but he is also a free agent.
The way the Raptors get this deal done is if they do not bring back Kyle Lowery on a max deal and they somehow move DeMarre Carroll’s contract.
Overall Likelihood: 4/10
The Hawks need a reliable scoring wing with Paul Milsap probably not coming back. Hayward would immediately take over the scoring reins of the team. His 21 points/5.4 rebounds/3.5 assists per stat line would jump as the number two ball handler behind Dennis Schroder. 21/5/6 does not seem out of the question especially if Dwight Howard decides to post up again.
Despite Schroder’s poison-pill contract (his salary jumps $12.7 million), the Hawks have the space to bring in Hayward. They also lose Hardaway Jr., Thabo Sefolosha, Kris Humphries and Ersan Ilyasova. Young talents in Prince and Bembry can be effective rotational players behind a Hayward/Bazemore starting pair. Could Hayward be attracted enough? Yeah, if he gets the franchise reins and takes on the “high suggestive” player/GM role.
Los Angeles Clippers
Overall Likelihood: 6/10
The Clippers are in need of a shake up and Gordon Hayward could be the guy to bring in. They lose JJ Reddick and Paul Pierce and Jamal Crawford is somewhere on the back nine. Next season, if they stood pat, their potential starting wings (2/3) would be Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. With rumors Chris Paul is interested in moving to the San Antonio Spurs, the team has to do something quickly if they want to have a chance at keeping him.
Here is how they do it: get Blake Griffin to opt in to the final year of his contract and then complete a sign and trade Griffin for Hayward. Outside of that, the Clippers would be too late to enter the free agent sweepstakes because they will be focused solely on Chris Paul.
Overall Likelihood: 5/10
The Nuggets have a lot of supplementary pieces and almost made it to the playoffs. Say what you want about Mudiay but I think he could still develop. Hayward would fit in an offense spaced with Jamal Murray (who will be entering his second year), Gary Harris, and either Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari. Denver has space eaters and rim protectors in Faried Hernangomez and Jokic. #THEJOKER will be huge for Denver and he and Hayward could be an above average offensive 1–2 punch with shooters.
Denver gets it done easily if Gallinari opts out of his contract. If he opts in, then Denver will have to trade Gallo or Chandler and sweeten it with something else in order to get an upper level player in the game; a proven scorer who can help you win.
Overall Likelihood: 9/10
Look, the Jazz want to keep what they have going for them; build around a versatile star wing (Hayward) and a perennial defensive player of the year candidate (Gobert). Give the Jazz a more athletic point guard, and they have their three. Rodney Hood has developed into a nice two-guard and Alec Burks can still play.
It is simple, the Jazz can offer the most money and can give Hayward the fifth year on the contract. The Jazz can go out of their way to exceed to the cap in order to keep the best player on their team.
Overall Likelihood: 9/10
The Celtics can pry away a star to continue to build. With Isiah Thomas and Avery Bradley for one more year, the number one pick this year (hopefully Fultz) and Al Horford, this team could get scary.
The Celts have Brad Stevens. The relationship between Stevens and Hayward has been as tight as it could be since Stevens was the only one to recruit a young Hayward before his growth spurt. Hayward rewarded Stevens by going to Butler over other schools that had offered him because of his relationship. Boston has the available cap room to get the max deal in (maybe by trading Crowder too). Brad Stevens will be the key to the whole situation come July.
This post was originally posted on Medium.com/Section240 by John Amoroso on June 14th, 2017
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