Gordon Hayward Reportedly Could Sign with Miami Heat in Free Agency

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2017

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, right, drives against Sacramento Kings guard Ty Lawson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Pat Riley's luck in free agency has run out in recent seasons, but there's growing speculation he could target Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward this summer.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported there are "whispers" Hayward may wind up in Miami if he does not re-sign with the Jazz.

Hayward, 27, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He is in the midst of a career-best season, averaging 21.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on the way to making his first All-Star team.

The Heat will have max-level cap room this summer but can only offer Hayward a four-year deal with five percent yearly raises. The Jazz can offer a five-year deal with eight percent yearly raises. Full financial details of the deal will depend on the 2017-18 cap. The NBA currently projects a $102 million cap, per Basketball Insiders.

Hayward leaving Utah for Miami wouldn't make much sense from a basketball perspective. The Heat are scraping by at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race, which is seen as a pleasant surprise given their roster composition.

The Jazz are the West's No. 4 seed and are equipped with one of the league's best young nuclei. If they're able to rid some of their roster clutter for another elite player to pair with Hayward and Rudy Gobert, Utah could challenge the top teams in the conference.

Speculation of a Hayward departure to this point has been mostly centered on Boston. Celtics coach Brad Stevens molded Hayward at Butler, and the two remain close. Fans even cheered for the free-agent-to-be during Utah's trip to Boston earlier this season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical said on his podcast earlier this month that the Celtics will "go hard" after Hayward in free agency.