All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward formally notified the Utah Jazz on Thursday that he is declining his $16.7 million player option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to league sources.
Hayward had a Thursday deadline to make the decision. According to league sources, he will visit the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat once free agency starts Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET before granting a face-to-face recruiting meeting with the Jazz.
ESPN reported earlier this month that the Heat concerned the Jazz as much as Boston in free agency, but the Celtics have since amped up their interest in Hayward, who played for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler University.
The Celtics, sources say, have been focused in recent days on trying to secure a free-agent commitment from Hayward and then trying to complete a trade for Indiana’s Paul George, in hopes of potentially assembling another superteam in the Golden State mode by adding those two alongside All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and former All-Star Al Horford.
But league sources say the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers all remain in trade pursuit of George, which could enhance Utah’s odds of keeping Hayward.
The Celtics and Heat can offer Hayward a four-year maximum deal valued at $127 million. Only the Jazz can offer a five-year deal worth an estimated $180 million.