Gordon Hayward gave a lot to the Jazz over his seven seasons in Utah. But now that he’s skipping town, the criticisms are starting to come in.
The Salt Lake Tribune ran a lengthy feature Sunday on Hayward’s decision to leave Utah and join the Boston Celtics in free agency. Near the end of that feature is a quote from Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker, Hayward’s Jazz teammate for three seasons, on why the All-Star forward fled for greener pastures.
And Booker’s words don’t paint Hayward in a very positive light.
“Gordon’s a guy who doesn’t really want to be the man,” Booker told the Tribune. “… I’m not sure he wanted a franchise on his shoulders. Gordon’s a great player, and one of the best players in the league. But I wasn’t really surprised at his choice. I heard the rumors.”
Those are interesting comments about a guy who essentially had been the man in Utah for the last several seasons. Hayward was the Jazz’s lone All-Star in 2016-17, and while the team has other promising young players like Rudy Gobert and former No. 5 pick Dante Exum, Hayward was the clear face of the franchise and would have been for years to come had he stayed.
Yet Booker apparently feels Hayward wasn’t willing to carry that burden, instead opting to join a talented Celtics team that will have the luxury of spreading responsibilities around next season.
Of course, Hayward coming to Boston isn’t exactly Kevin Durant teaming up with the Golden State Warriors. He was arguably the league’s most coveted free agent this offseason, though, so it’s not surprising his decision is getting a little bit of blowback.
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