The Jazz certainly have a strong case to re-sign Hayward, thanks largely to the five-year pact worth an estimated $180 million that only they can offer as well as Utah’s on-the-rise status in the Western Conference.
But sources told ESPN.com that the Jazz regard the Heat as no less a threat to lure Hayward away than the Celtics, whose interest in the former Butler star has been anticipated for some time largely thanks to the presence of Hayward’s college coach, Brad Stevens, on Boston’s bench.
The most that Miami or Boston can offer Hayward, however, is a four-year deal worth an estimated $133 million.
Hayward, 27, made his All-Star breakthrough this past season and co-led the Jazz along with center Rudy Gobert to the second round of the playoffs despite Utah’s many injuries. The 6-foot-8 swingman, drafted No. 9 overall by the Jazz in 2010, averaged 21.9 points and shot better than 47 percent from the floor and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
In addition to Hayward, Miami and Boston are also widely expected to pursue LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin in free agency. Hayward and Griffin are seen around the league as All-Star free agents who are indeed attainable this summer, unlike the Golden State Warriors‘ duo of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
If they’re somehow fortunate enough to land either one of their top targets, it remains to be seen whether the Heat will have enough money left over this summer to re-sign free agents Dion Waiters or James Johnson.