ORLANDO, Fla. — Instead of playing in the Orlando Pro Summer League like he has in years past, the second-highest-paid ex-Butler guy in the NBA took a spot on the Utah Jazz bench for Sunday's game.
"They promoted me to coach," Gordon Hayward said.
Don't worry, fans. He was joking.
Hayward will still be a Jazz wing this upcoming season, but he decided to swing down and attend the summer league in central Florida to meet his new teammates and support buddies Jeremy Evans and Alec Burks.
"We've got a young group of guys," Hayward said, "and I want to be a part of that — just to grow with them and see how they do."
The move — an appreciated one by Jazz management — makes it apparent that Hayward took it to heart when he was challenged to take on a bigger leadership role during exit interviews in April.
Hayward, now the longest-tenured Jazz player after Paul Millsap's announced departure to Atlanta, arrived Saturday and will be in Orlando with his team through Tuesday as he continues to prepare for the Team USA minicamp he'll participate in this month with teammate Derrick Favors.
"(It's) tremendous to see him here with his teammates," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It's good for them to see and it's good for him to be around his teammates."
Turns out, Hayward also got the chance to be around his former coach, whose new team is also playing in Orlando this week. He laughed when asked about seeing Boston's new head coach, Brad Stevens, sporting a Celtics logo on his shirt.
"It was weird. I saw him sitting on the bench across from me, waved to him," Hayward said. "It's a heck of an opportunity for him. I'm extremely excited. I think it came out of left field kind of for everybody. I went out to lunch with him (not long ago) and was talking about his team next year at Butler. Now he's in the NBA. It will be fun competing against him."
Stevens reportedly signed a six-year deal worth $22 million. Hayward will make $3.45 million in the final year of his rookie contract.
GAME RECAP: Dionte Christmas led the Jazz to a 69-59 victory over the Miami Heat's summer squad — one that didn't include LeBron James or Dwyane Wade — by scoring 14 points off the bench Sunday on the Magic's practice court at the Amway Center.
Third-year Jazz guard Alec Burks scored 10 points and looked very strong before leaving with a mildly sprained left ankle in the second quarter. Guard Chris Roberts (11 points) and rookie center Rudy Gobert (six points, four rebounds, three blocks) also had solid outings for Utah.
The 7-1 Gobert made it difficult on the Heat offense. The Jazz coaching staff liked his aggressiveness, his defensive quickness and the work he did on pick-and-rolls.
"I'm very impressed with him," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said. "We were very pleased with Rudy's performance today."
The Jazz picked up six points — three for winning the game and one apiece for winning the first three quarters.
NEW NO. 3?: While he fielded multiple questions about his 1-for-12 shooting numbers Sunday, Trey Burke was also asked about another number.
Now that DeMarre Carroll is headed to Atlanta, will the guy currently wearing No. 33 change to the number he wore in high school and college?
"I want to wear 3. That's the number that I do want to wear," Burke said, smiling. "I'm not going to say that's the number I'm going to get. If you guys do see me in 3, it was of my request."
As we learned last week, Fanzz stores already have some Burke No. 3 Jazz jerseys in stock.
NOTES: Hall of Fame coach/senior basketball adviser Jerry Sloan is with the team. Coach Ty Corbin and lead assistant Lowe observed while assistant Michael Sanders coached the game with newly promoted Brad Jones at his side. Brazilian point guard Raul Neto sat near the end of the bench in street clothes. Neto, who's still under contract with his Spanish team Lagun Aro GBC, is awaiting FIBA clearance to be able to play during the summer league with the Jazz. Michael Stockton, a left-handed shooter who wears No. 21 (both opposites of his famous dad), played two minutes but didn’t register a stat. Injuries: Burks (mild left ankle sprain), Tony Gafney (right adductor tendinitis) and Jerel McNeal (right knee MCL sprain) are all day-to-day. William Buford, Drew Gordon, Rick Jackson and Delroy James did not play.
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