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Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey rebuts rumor about an unhappy Gordon Hayward demanding a trade

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives around a defender in the first half of an NBA regular season game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Friday, April 1, 2016.
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives around a defender in the first half of an NBA regular season game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Friday, April 1, 2016.
Chris Samuels,

SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Lindsey did something interesting Friday morning during his weekly radio interview.

Asked about a recent widespread rumor about Gordon Hayward allegedly being unhappy and demanding a trade, the Utah Jazz general manager actually thanked the person who started this juicy gossip.

“In a very odd way,” Lindsey said, “I’m pleased that that (rumor) was put out.”

Lindsey didn’t mention the person who started the rumor by name, but word spread quickly after Brian Geltzeiler, founder of Hoopscritic.com and an insider for Sirius XM NBA Radio and 120 Sports, tweeted out the following:

“League sources tell hoopscritic.com that the Utah Jazz are actively trying to trade Gordon Hayward.

“Hayward has expressed his unhappiness in Utah and the Jazz are attempting to accommodate him per league sources. …

“League sources tell hoopscritic.com that the Boston Celtics are pushing hard for Hayward and the Jazz are not biting right now. The Jazz are putting a steep price tag on Hayward. It remains to be seen if Boston will pay it, but Brad Stevens wants Hayward.”

There’s one major flaw in those tweets.

The premise — that Hayward is unhappy and has demanded a trade — simply isn’t true, multiple sources in the Jazz organization and close to Hayward told the Deseret News.

Would Hayward like to play for his old Butler coach and close friend Brad Stevens?

Of course he would. Anybody would be silly to believe otherwise.

Does that mean he’s unhappy in Utah and wants out?

Absolutely not.

“There is no truth to this rumor,” one team source said. “Gordon has been terrific.”

Lindsey put it this way when asked if an unhappy Hayward had demanded a trade: "Unequivocally no."

If Hayward was disgruntled and was hoping to be Boston-bound, he certainly went about it in a strange way. He chose to remain in Salt Lake City this offseason instead of going back to Indiana as he has in previous summers. He works out at Zions Bank Basketball Center every morning. He and his wife Robyn even just bought a new home along the Wasatch Front.

That said, Hayward is as competitive of a person as you’ll find, so there are some things he would like to see changed in Utah, another source confirmed. He wants to win. He wants better talent around him after a 40-42 season left the team out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year. He’s wanted to play with a really good point guard, which, by the way, makes the trade for veteran George Hill a smart move by the Jazz.

But there were no demands made by Hayward, who has a strong relationship with Jazz coach Quin Snyder and his Utah teammates.

While the Jazz aren’t looking to trade Hayward — despite Geltzeiler's insistence to the contrary — the franchise was approached by other teams about the versatile wing who recently turned down an offer to play for Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Boston and Phoenix made offers to the Jazz for Hayward leading up to the draft, but both teams’ proposals were spurned by Utah management, according to ESPN.

The Jazz consider Hayward, their best all-around player, to be one of the major cornerstones of this advancing rebuild. Trading him away — or not re-signing him when he likely opts out of the final year of his contract next offseason — could be a big step back in this process.

As for the reason why Lindsey thanked Geltzeiler (without naming him), it turns out Hayward’s agent called the Jazz GM and was concerned about the quickly spreading rumor. For one reason, Lindsey explained moments after Geltzeiler stuck with his story on 1280 The Zone's morning show, Hayward wouldn’t want Jazz fans to think that he’s betraying them.

“This will disappoint him and upset him because he’s very loyal to Utah and the Jazz fans,” agent Mark Bartelstein said, according to the general manager.

Added Lindsey: “What our fans think of him is important to him.”

Having fans know the truth is also important to Lindsey, who twice rebuted the rumor on the Jazz's radio station Wednesday and Friday.

Upon Bartelstein’s recommendation, Lindsey sought out Hayward earlier this week while the small forward was doing a balance routine during a workout at the practice facility.

Snyder joined them for the impromptu meeting.

Lindsey said Hayward wasn’t aware of the spreading rumor, but the three key Jazz figures proceeded to engage in a productive conversation. They talked about the Olympics, about Hayward’s wife, about his preparation and, although Lindsey didn’t elaborate, they most certainly chatted about things the team captain would like to see happen with his Utah team.

“He was able to say a bunch of stuff and we were able to say a bunch of things, and Quin and I got a big, sweaty hug. It was all good,” Lindsey said. “In a weird way, the fact that it was put out there allowed us to say a few things that we probably wouldn’t have said otherwise.”

That might be a lesson about communication for all of them to keep in mind in the future.

“There was a huge positive that came out of it,” Lindsey said. “Whoever started (the rumor), I would just thank them. A couple of neat things came out of it.”

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