SALT LAKE CITY — Growing up, we were always told there was no use crying over spilt milk.
That same wisdom applies to the disappointing, disheartening and downright devastating departure of free-agent forward Gordon Hayward:
There's no us crying about it any longer. What's done is done, darn it, and all the whining, complaining and gnashing of teeth isn't going to change anything.
Yes, it was a painful gut-punch by a player who Jazz fans had grown to greatly admire and respect, watching him steadily progress and improve from that skinny, naive kid out of Indiana to the much more muscled, confident NBA All-Star performer he became by what turned out to be his final season spent in Utah.
In the end, it would appear the Jazz organization hitched their wagon to the wrong rising star, and after seven years of helping nurture him into a great player, it turned out to be a tremendous letdown.
Now, though, it's time to get over it. Sure, he'll be sorely missed, but it's been almost a week now since that annoying announcement that he'd be bailing on the Jazz (instead of balling for them) to go play for the Boston Celtics instead.
So it's time to move on.
Like Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan always said, you've gotta play forward, not backward.
Indeed, be sure to always look ahead, not back, because whatever's happened in the past can't be changed. It's behind you now, so leave it there. It's counter-productive and makes no sense at all to fret about it.
Thus, the Jazz must move forward and figure out who their starting small forward is going to be this season.
Hayward's feet-dragging certainly cost the ballclub an opportunity to go after a suitable free-agent replacement — more spilt milk you're gonna have to stop crying about — but the best alternative is probably already on Utah's roster.
Joe Ingles, the versatile 6-foot-8 swingman from Australia, is coming off the best NBA season of his life — much like Hayward was — and recently re-signed with the Jazz for a four-year deal worth $52 million.
One reason the Jazz valued Ingles' presence so much couldn't be measured in sheer statistics alone. He was Hayward's best buddy on the team, and bringing Ingles back was one of many things the Jazz organization did to try to entice Hayward to return to Utah as well.
So, now that we see how that turned out, it seems fitting that instead of having Ingles serve as one of the complementary pieces to Hayward, perhaps Jingling Joe can be the guy to replace him instead.
Sure, Ingles' stats last season paled in comparison to Hayward's — 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for Hayward; 7.1 points, 3.2 boards and 2.7 assists per game for Ingles.
But while Ingles' scoring average is less than a third that of his departed pal, Ingles' 3-point shooting percentage of 44.1 was better than that of Hayward. And if Ingles is allotted increased playing time, it's reasonable to think that his scoring average should jump up well into double digits.
No, he's not Hayward, but Ingles is a more than adequate defender as well, and his terrific sense of humor and likability makes him an invaluable locker room presence for this team.
If Ingles doesn't take Hayward's spot in the starting lineup, then how about 16-year NBA veteran Joe Johnson, who spent most of last season playing power forward but, at 6-7, has the savvy experience, versatility and shooting ability to slide over to the small forward spot.
So, between these two guys, who are definitely no average Joes, the Jazz should be good.
OK, so maybe not 51-wins-and-rising good, but still OK.
And if Alec Burks can get healthy again and stay that way after a pair of injury-plagued seasons, perhaps he can finally live up to all the playmaking promise he showed earlier in his career.
Utah's front office, led by general manager Dennis Lindsey, will no doubt continue to try and bring in reinforcements, via free agency or perhaps a trade, who can help prevent this team from sliding backwards toward mediocrity.
And brilliant head coach Quin Snyder and his staff will continue to coach ’em up, strategize and find game plans that will maximize their abilities.
So, Jazz fans, stop crying over that darned spilt milk. Sure, it would've been sweet to still have it, but heck, it's turned mighty sour by now.
Move forward and look to the future. Looking back will serve no useful purpose whatsover. Besides, it's only gonna get ya more frustrated about what might've been — and now never will be.