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Gordon Hayward Rumors: Celtics, Jazz, Heat Free-Agency Meetings Scheduled

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 6: Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz looks on against 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

Gordon Hayward will reportedly meet with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz, in that order, once free agency begins on July 1, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein

The news comes after Stein reported Thursday that Hayward officially informed the Jazz he will decline his player option for the 2017-18 season and test the open market. 

The Jazz, Celtics and Heat have been considered the front-runners to sign Hayward for weeks, and they'll each have a compelling pitch to make when they get in the room with the 2016-17 All-Star. 

Boston will not only be able to try to sell Hayward on a reunion with former Butler Bulldogs head coach Brad Stevens, but it can tout a defined long-term plan for contention in the wide-open Eastern Conference. 

According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics will attempt to trade for Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George if they can secure a commitment from Hayward during the early stages of free agency. 

If the Celtics can do that, they will tout a cadre of studs that includes Hayward, George, Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford

The Heat, meanwhile, have team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra at their disposal to persuade Hayward to move to South Beach and join a franchise renowned for its winning culture. 

Hayward would also be able to form a versatile trio in Miami alongside center Hassan Whiteside and point guard Goran Dragic. 

On Thursday, Stein provided an update on where the Heat and Celtics stand in their pursuit of the 27-year-old: 

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Reported here during the NBA Finals that the threat posed by Miami concerns Utah as much as Boston ... but the Celts have ramped it up since

Then there are the Jazz, who helped develop Hayward over the past seven seasons, turning him into a player who will likely garner a maximum contract. 

As things stand, the Jazz could be in a tough spot since they're trying to convince Hayward to stay in the Western Conference and compete alongside the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, while the Heat and Celtics could have clearer paths to a conference title. 

That said, the allure of extra cash could always keep Hayward tethered to Utah. 

Once free agency opens, the Jazz will be able to offer Hayward a more lucrative five-year max, while all other parties can extend offers that cap out at four years. 

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