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Plan D: Who the Utah Jazz can target following Gordon Hayward's departure

The timing of Gordon Hayward’s decision to leave Utah for Boston was awkward for a variety of reasons. His camp appeared to discredit a leak that reported his desire to join the Celtics, which gave the Jazz and their fans false hope, only for him to make an official announcement via a blog post hours later.

As Hayward waited to publish his Players' Tribune piece, the Jazz were losing time to contact potential free agents. The ones who would’ve been semi-acceptable replacements for Hayward — Otto Porter, Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala — are no longer on the market.

Now, Utah has to focus on Plan D — or what's left in free agency at this point.

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings

18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 30 games

Gay is one of the NBA’s most impressive athletes, and until he tore his Achilles this past season, he was having the best season of his career. In 2016, Gay made 46 percent of his total shots while averaging 17.2 points per game, despite not playing a style that analytically driven pundits admire.

Head-to-head, Gay got the best of Hayward during his time in Utah, winning eight of their 13 matchups. Gay put up 18.4 points and 5.5 rebounds against the Jazz in their meetings.

Utah apparently took notice, because it's reportedly interested in signing Gay, who’s also received interest from the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

But at age 30, it’s unclear how Gay will recover from such a serious injury.

With that said, the Jazz are in a bind financially and don’t have much wiggle room. Gay could come at a discount.

Teams, including the Jazz, will likely avoid signing Gay to a long-term deal, lessening the blow if he cannot contribute. If he’s able to give at least 80 percent of what he did pre-injury, though, Gay could end up being a steal.

James Johnson

12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 76 games

James Johnson has been one of the NBA’s best-kept secrets, but a breakthrough season will make him a prime target for teams that missed out on the players atop their free agency wish lists.

The Jazz and Johnson have mutual interest, according to several reports.

For most of his career, Johnson was a journeyman, barely making teams at the beginning of the season. Johnson was a gritty defender, but struggled to make shots and teams viewed him as an offensive liability. Johnson, a career 29 percent 3-point shooter, was never reliable from deep throughout the course of his eight-year career.

But last season, Johnson randomly became a threat under Erik Spoelstra in Miami.

Johnson averaged a career-high in points, rebounds and assists while recording over one steal and block per game. He increased his 3-point percentage to 34 percent on 3.4 tries per game, which is more than double what he ever attempted before.

Utah had the third-best defensive rating in the NBA last season and Johnson is a more effective defender than Hayward. It’s almost impossible to find players that could physically challenge LeBron James, but Johnson is one of the handful that could throw him off his rhythm.

An avid martial arts practitioner, Johnson would fit seamlessly into Utah’s defensive-oriented culture.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Washington Wizards

13.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 81 games

Utah had interest in restricted free agent Otto Porter, but the Brooklyn Nets quickly signed him to a $104 million offer sheet that the Wizards are expected to match.

Washington hoped to reach a more cap-friendly deal with Porter, but Brooklyn has made that impossible to do. Porter’s max contract will make it difficult for Washington to retain its own talent, including Bojan Bogdanovic, who’s also a restricted free agent.

The Wizards haven’t withdrawn Bogdanovic’s qualifying offer, so they do technically own his rights as a free agent. If Bogdanovic gets a significant raise from the $4.6 million he made this past season, as expected, Washington will look to sign and trade him to another team in exchange for a trade exception.

As previously mentioned, Bogdanovic is an underrated offensive player, having scored 44 points in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2015-16 season. Bogdanovic led all scorers in the 2016 Olympics and led the NBA in free throw percentage last year. Per 36 minutes, Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 19.8 points and 4.8 rebounds on 46 percent shooting from the field. He also made 39 percent of his threes.

Offensively, Bogdanovic is highly efficient. Bogdanovic has won games for the Wizards and Nets with his scoring alone. Bogdanovic became accustomed to playing along a pass-first point guard in John Wall, and his adjustment to playing with Ricky Rubio wouldn’t be a difficult one.

C.J. Miles

10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 76 games

C.J. Miles does two things well: defends and makes threes.

Utah’s offense has become more perimeter oriented and that won’t change going forward, even with Hayward gone. Of the 647 shots Miles took with the Indiana Pacers last year, 409 came from behind the 3-point arc.

Despite shooting so many threes, Miles was still one of the league’s leaders, making more than 41 percent of his attempts. Miles would’ve been the second-best 3-point shooter on Utah’s roster last year, just behind Joe Ingles, who made 44 percent of his threes.

Inevitably, Utah’s offense is going to change next season without Hayward. Rubio is going to dominate the ball and Rudy Gobert’s role will expand. The Jazz have to find a way to replace Hayward’s scoring output. Shooting-wise, Miles can more than make up what Hayward gave to Utah.

Miles, who played for Utah from 2005-12, knows his role and won’t "wow" anyone, but any team can benefit from having another confident defender and shooter.

Jeff Green

9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 69 games

Once thought of as a franchise building block, Jeff Green has fallen into obscurity.

When he first got drafted, Green was a part of Oklahoma City’s core with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. In his second season, Green averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. Then after he was traded to the Celtics, his career took a downturn.

At 6-9, Green is a bit of a tweener. Teams don’t really know where to slot him. A career 33 percent 3-point shooter, Green isn’t efficient enough to play major minutes as a stretch four and can’t defend small forwards.

Green has been kicked around the NBA a bit and he’s dealt with health concerns, including heart surgery in 2012. But the talent is there and the Jazz have the coaching staff to take on a reclamation project.

Just two seasons ago, Green averaged 17.6 points in Boston. That should’ve been enough for him to keep his spot in the rotation, but for some reason, teams thought Green was a go-to option.

In spurts, Green can still be effective. Besides Boris Diaw, the Jazz don’t have a player with Green’s size who can handle the ball, create for themselves and shoot from the perimeter.

He’s not going to solve all of Utah’s problems, but Green is worth a flier.