SALT LAKE CITY — If things go well for the Utah Jazz, they’ll celebrate the Fourth of July with some hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks and a contract agreement from Gordon Hayward.
Short of seal-the-deal handshakes, Monday’s meeting in San Diego went about as well as the Jazz could have hoped for when team brass and a handful of players met with Hayward in his San Diego vacation home.
The Jazz’s presentation lasted for almost four hours and the Utah contingent presented an "excellent" case about why the All-Star small forward should continue his career in Utah, according to sources.
Going into the meetings with potential suitors Miami (Saturday), Boston (Sunday) and Utah (Monday), Hayward’s agent said the versatile star would listen to their pitches and then “take a deep breath” before deciding.
As such, Hayward left the Jazz’s meeting impressed but needing time to take in everything he’s heard over the weekend from three solid contenders.
Hayward can continue what he started with the Jazz, who won 51 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs this year as he blossomed into an All-Star for the first time in seven seasons.
Hayward can head to Boston and reunite with his former college coach, Brad Stevens, who took his team to the Eastern Conference Finals with All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.
Or Hayward can take his talents to South Beach and join forces with Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and be the clear leader on a team that won 41 games last year and would seemingly take a big leap forward with him.
Three solid choices.
One undecided star.
“At the risk of tugging at Jazz fans' heart strings,” USA Today writer Sam Amick wrote, “I'm told Utah made a very strong impression on Gordon Hayward and he's genuinely torn.”
As they’ve admitted publicly leading up to this free-agency period, the Jazz let Hayward know they hope to continue the momentum built in recent years and keep him in the fold for his entire career à la Utah legend John Stockton.
It could play in the Jazz’s favor that Hayward’s favorite player growing up, Reggie Miller, planted his roots in Indiana soil for the duration of his 18-year career, too.
The Jazz brought a large group of people to Southern California to help with their presentation.
Joe Ingles, who recently flew back to the U.S. from Australia, made it down from Los Angeles two days after agreeing to a four-year, $52 million deal with the Jazz. Ingles, Hayward’s best friend on the Jazz, humorously tweeted a coffee emoji, leaving people to assume he meant it in a “coffee is for closers” way.
The team flew recently acquired point guard Ricky Rubio in from Spain to meet with a guy he could set up for a whole lot of points in the future.
All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, shooting guard Rodney Hood, coach Quin Snyder, general manager Dennis Lindsey, owner Gail Miller and team president Steve Starks were also in attendance.