Over the past couple of years, rumors of Gordon Hayward wanting out of Utah and linking him to possible trades have been dismissed by local media and fans in Utah, and with good reason. Hayward has indicated that he is happy in Utah, and he is expected to re-sign with the Jazz when he opts out of the final year of his contract after this season. While there may be some other attractive destinations, here are ten reasons why Hayward will stay in Utah.
- The Jazz are improving. The Jazz have gotten better on both ends of the floor each of the first two years under Head Coach Quin Snyder despite injuries to key players. Hayward buys in to Coach Snyder’s system. He believes in what GM Dennis Lindsey is building.
- Money. Hayward will receive a max contract after he opts out this summer. The Jazz are the only team that can offer him a 5th year on his contract. Hayward could take that extra year as a player option for the added security in case of injury or decline as he enters his 30s. He’ll be 31 years old after the fourth year, and would most likely opt out again at that point to receive another large contract if he stays healthy.
- Hayward wants to win. The Jazz have increased their win total by 15 games over the past 2 years despite playing short-handed good portion of each season due to injuries to key players. With the addition of George Hill and Joe Johnson to help carry the team, Hayward believes that he can continue to win in Utah.
- Hayward is committed to the Jazz. For the first time in his career, he spent this past offseason in Salt Lake City working out with the Jazz staff in order to take his game to the next level. His hard work has paid off, as he has developed the strength to finish his shot after taking contact, which he struggled with prior to this season. Hayward leads this team on and off the court. He is setting the example to the younger players through his hard work and dedication, just as Stockton and Malone used to do.
- Hayward believes he is one of the best. He believes that he can lead a team to a championship, and he doesn’t want to play second fiddle. Utah is the perfect setting for Hayward to show just how good he is. With a stable organization and a coaching staff that believes in him, he can finally bring Utah the NBA championship that’s long eluded them.
- Hayward has confidence in himself to lead the team. He has carried this team the past few years. Now, surrounded by a more talented supporting cast, Hayward has stepped up his game, averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds. He believes that the Jazz can win with him as the number one guy.
- Coach Quin Snyder. Lindsey brought Snyder in to develop the current and future talent on the Jazz roster. Although he was expected to have a major effect on the Jazz’s offense, Snyder’s defensive impact was felt almost immediately, as the Jazz’s defensive rating improved from last in the league in 2013-14 to 13th in 2014-15, his first season with the Jazz, to 3rd in the league 17 games into 2016-17. The Jazz’s offense has also improved with Snyder at the helm, from 25th in 2013-14 to 13th so far this season. The Jazz have become a formidable team again under Snyder, gaining respect across the league and from the media heading into this season. Hayward wants to play for a winning coach, and he already has one who he believes can get the job done.
- He loves playing in Utah. Jazz fans are known for being loud and proud, energizing the team when they need it the most. He loves the advantage gained from a knowledgeable, supportive crowd, especially Doc – a player-taunting, rubber-chicken-swinging character who sits behind the basket.
- Hayward likes living in Utah. He feels comfortable raising his kids in the family-friendly atmosphere Utah provides. He also realizes that Salt Lake City offers most of the same benefits of a larger city, including lucrative endorsement deals to supplement his income.
- Team Chemistry. The nucleus of the Jazz has grown up together and developed into a competitive team that works well together on the court and in the locker room. Hayward wants to keep building on the bonds that have already formed. He is a leader on the Jazz, and doesn’t want to give that up.
Hayward will most likely spend his prime in Utah because he is a leader on this team, and he believes that the Jazz will be good enough to win a title while he is still in his prime. He likes living in Utah, and believes in what the coaching staff and management are trying to accomplish. Hayward has worked hard to earn the big contract he will be signing, and will take the extra year that the Jazz can offer because he believes in himself, and he likes the direction that the team is heading.