Making a positive first impression that lasts has become one of the goals of the Miami Heat when it comes to recruiting pending free agent forward Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz. That’s because in the three-team race to sign the forward, the Heat will be the team that meets with him first on Saturday, when free agency officially begins.
Tony Jones of the The Salt Lake Tribune wrote on Wednesday that Miami will get things going on Saturday, followed by Hayward’s meeting with Utah on Monday. That will then be followed by a final meeting with the other team in the three-way race, the Boston Celtics. The Jazz will be able to offer a five-year contract for more money, while both the Heat and Celtics will be limited to offering four-year contracts.
That leadoff position is much different than last season’s attempt to sign forward Kevin Durant, who eventually signed with the Golden State Warriors. The Heat were the last team to make their pitch, which ultimately came up short.
Jones noted that Hayward wants to make his decision quickly, though he wouldn’t be able to sign with the winning team until noon Eastern time on Thursday, July 6. If the Heat’s effort proves to be successful, they can expect to pay Hayward a minimum of $30 million for each of the four years of a proposed deal. That could limit attempts to re-sign the team’s own key free agents, Dion Waiters and James Johnson.