Gordon Hayward Rumors: Heat Currently Seen as Favorites to Land SF

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 6: Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz reacts to his late game three point basket during their 102-91 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

The Miami Heat have reportedly emerged as the favorites to sign free-agent small forward Gordon Hayward, who spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz.           

On Saturday, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer provided the update on Hayward's status. Based on O'Connor's conversations with three sources, the reasons the Heat are in the driver's seat for one of the top free agents include a "better lifestyle" and a "feature scoring role" for Hayward, as well as the opportunity to work with head coach Erik Spoelstra. 

Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 47.1 percent from the field, including 39.8 percent from three-point range last season with the Jazz. He ranked fifth among small forwards in Player Efficiency Rating, ahead of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, per ESPN.com.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald noted the Boston Celtics are also interested and have tried to set up a meeting with the coveted forward in the coming week.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski (via Adam Joseph of 16 Wins A Ring) reported the Jazz are "confident" in their ability to re-sign Hayward.

The 27-year-old Indianapolis native talked about hitting free agency back in May and expressed his plan to explore all offers, per the Associated Press (via Fox Sports).

"These opportunities don't come around very much," Hayward said. "That's why you hire an agent, to deal with this type of stuff. I'm sure he's going to go through all of the options for me, let me know what can happen. I know there's a lot of stuff that can definitely go down. So, once I sit down and talk with him, we'll move forward from there."

Hayward would be in for a significant role offensively if he joins the Heat, who are seeking to upgrade their offense after ranking 21st in points per game last season.

The Celtics can present him with a better chance to compete for a championship, but it's unclear whether that will make a major impact in his final decision-making process.