This afternoon Gordon Hayward informed the Utah Jazz that he will be declining his player option and will test his value in Free Agency. ESPN reported today that Hayward plans to meet with the Jazz, Celtics, and Heat this coming week to ultimately decide his next move. Many believe that Hayward will decide to join the Boston Celtics to join his former college coach Brad Stevens. Together at Butler, Gordon and Brad enjoyed success by making it to the NCAA championship in 2010, the same year that Hayward entered the NBA Draft.

This past season with the Jazz, Hayward earned his first All-Star nod as a reserve for the Western Conference.

He also led the Jazz to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2010 while averaging a career-high 21.9 points per game. The Jazz were able to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs but were eliminated in the next round by the Golden State Warriors. Now, with a big payday expected this off-season, Hayward may likely go to a team that has a better chance at competing for an NBA title.

Why Boston?

The Boston Celtics finished this past season as the No. 1 seed in the East and were able to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals as well. They eventually lost to the Cavs in five games, but their performance has made them a team of interest for star players this off-season. As mentioned before, Hayward's ties with Brad Stevens could be the determining factor in his decision to join a team that was one series away from reaching the NBA Finals.

The Celtics could definitely use a player of his caliber. Isaiah Thomas is already their go-to-guy on the scoring end, finishing the season averaging a career-high 28.9 points per game. Adding Hayward's scoring ability and leadership on the floor for the Celtics could give them enough firepower to be considered a serious contender.

Do Miami and Utah offer enough?

Miami has always been a big attraction during the NBA's free agency period. However, since the departure of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, the team has been in a rebuilding stage. The Utah Jazz has some nice young pieces that Hayward was able to lead to the playoffs this year, but they lack the veteran experience and Utah hasn't been much of a place of attraction for most star players.

Kevin Durant joining forces and creating a "super team" with the Golden State Warriors this past season has teams around the league doing whatever they can to keep up with the trend. This season if Hayward was to be selected to one of the All-NBA teams, he would have been eligible for a max contract with the Utah Jazz. However, he failed to receive a selection for any of the three teams, which gives Utah much less leverage over other teams.

The Miami Heat lack the assets to surround Hayward with to be an immediate contender in the Eastern Conference. The decision he plans to make could possibly come as early as July 1, when the NBA free agency signing period officially begins.

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