Hayward mulls opt out, as Jazz hope for return (Anthony-NBA-ESPN)


Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said Tuesday he hasn’t thought about whether he will opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent and will take some time off to enjoy time with his family before dealing with the “next chapter.”

“It’s hard to think about right now, just because of the season we’ve had and everything we’ve gone though,” he said at his end-of-season availability. “Today it still feels like you’re looking toward the next game, looking toward the next opponent. That’s obviously over. But it’s hard to shut that off right away.”

Coach Quin Snyder said he hopes the Jazz are able to keep Hayward.

“We certainly want him to continue here. There’s certainly a lot of good things happening here,” he said.

Snyder said he has tried to emphasize to the Jazz’s free agents that “until they’re somewhere else, they’re part of us.”

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and point guard George Hill were among many Jazz players also expressing their hopes that Hayward will stay with the team. Hill said that Hayward’s decision will influence his own free-agent future.

Hill, who said Hayward is “like my little brother now” said he believes his teammate’s “heart is here in Utah.”

Hayward said he didn’t think about his future during the season as he kept his focus on the Jazz. Although he said he isn’t ready to make a decision on his future he said he has enjoyed his time in Salt Lake City.

“It’s been so much fun for me here in Utah. Kind of growing up here, starting a family,” he said, adding later: “I have nothing but love for everybody here in Utah.”

Hayward averaged a career-best 21.9 points per game this season, along with 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists, to help the Jazz finish 51-31 during the regular season and upped his averages to 22.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 3.6 APG to help Utah reach the second-round of the NBA playoffs.

Hayward led the Jazz with 25 points in their 121-95 Game 4 loss Monday to the Golden State Warriors, who completed a sweep with the victory. He was given a standing ovation by Jazz fans who chanted his name when he left the court Monday night.

“Where we’ve come from is something I’m definitely proud of. To go from 25 wins to where we were this year, it definitely brings a smile to my face.”

He said winning Game 7 on the road against the Clippers is something that will stay with him “going forward and we’ll see what happens.”

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