SALT LAKE CITY — Although the NBA's free agency period officially begins after the clock strikes midnight on the East Coast early Saturday morning, the big news for the Utah Jazz won't materialize over the weekend.
All-Star forward Gordon Hayward will meet with the Utah Jazz on Monday to discuss his future, sources have confirmed to the Deseret News.
Hayward will opt out of the final year of his contract before free agency begins and will also meet in Miami with the Heat on Saturday, according to the Sun Sentinel, and with the Celtics in Boston on Sunday, according to VigilantSports.com.
Re-signing Hayward is the top priority for the Jazz this offseason, so this weekend and Monday's meeting have huge implications for the organization. To that point, Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey reiterated Wednesday that trying to bring back the team's incumbent free agents — namely Hayward and point guard George Hill — are precisely what the franchise hopes to do.
The Celtics, who made it to the Eastern Conference finals, are reportedly hoping to persuade Hayward to join forces with his former college coach from Butler, Brad Stevens, and play alongside Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and perhaps even Paul George if a discussed trade with Indiana comes to fruition.
Hayward has been a key figure in the Jazz's rebuild, which saw the team go from being a 25-win team in 2014 to winning 51 games, making the playoffs for the first time in five years and winning their first playoff series since 2010 this past season.
Hayward would like to see Hill re-signed and for the Jazz to increase the overall talent level, sources told the Deseret News. The 27-year-old Hayward, who will likely receive max offers from the three teams he meets with in the next several days (one extra year from the Jazz), wants to be in a situation where he can win now.
Utah has a small window to pick up a player in a trade with a team as it can put $16 million toward its 2016-17 salary cap if it accomplishes that by Friday.