The Miami Heat will have the first crack at forward Gordon Hayward when free-agency period begins Saturday. According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, the Heat will meet with Hayward on Saturday after the moratorium opens at 12 p.m. ET Friday night. Hayward will meet with the Boston Celtics on Sunday and his incumbent team, the Utah Jazz, where he played for seven years.

Sources told Jones that Hayward “wants to take his meetings, and make a decision in short order.” Hayward opted out of his $16.7 million player option for the coming season but he can get more from the free-agent market.

Hayward can sign a five-year deal worth $177.5 million with the Jazz while the Heat and Celtics can offer him a four-year maximum contract.

A ninth overall pick by the Jazz in the 2010 NBA Draft, the 27-year-old Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and was named to his first All-Star selection last season. In his career at Utah, Hayward averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

Heat can accommodate Hayward’s salary

The Heat have enough salary room to give into Hayward’s salary demand after Chris Bosh’s salary was removed from the cap limit. With Bosh’s salary written off, the Heat now has an additional $25 million in salary cap space.

Bosh was hounded by recurring issues of blood clotting in the past three seasons, missing bulk of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

He did not play at all in the 2016-17 season. If he joins the Heat, Hayward can provide the veteran leadership and score the Heat needs. Currently, the Heat have Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson.

Celtics have an advantage in the race for Hayward?

Hayward played collegiate ball at Butler under coach Brad Stevens, who now mentors the Celtics.

Their previous relationship could be put in play when the Celtics pursue Hayward’s services. During one regular-season game, Boston fans cheered Howard every time he touched the ball, showing him that he’s very much welcome to the Celtics.

However, the Jazz could not be taken out of the race for Hayward.

Aside from the fact that they can offer the forward more money, Utah has been home to Hayward and his family for seven years. Recently, Hayward’s wife posted letters from students of a junior high school in Tooele, Utah. In their handwritten letters, the students are urging Hayward to stay with the Jazz. Some fans also raised funds for the placement of a billboard near the Jazz home court, urging Hayward to stay in Salt Lake City.

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