Point guard Ricky Rubio, recently acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves as a key part of the Utah Jazz‘s plan to re-sign prized free agent Gordon Hayward, traveled from Spain to join the team’s contingent in Monday’s meeting with the All-Star small forward, sources told ESPN.
General manager Dennis Lindsey, head coach Quin Snyder, team president Steve Starks, ownership trustee Gail Miller, center Rudy Gobert and forward Joe Ingles were also part of the Utah group that traveled to Hayward’s San Diego home to attempt to persuade him to re-sign with the Jazz, according to sources.
The Monday meeting lasted approximately 3½ hours, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Jazz are the final team to meet with Hayward, who will command a maximum salary after opting out of the final season of his contract. He traveled to meet with the Miami Heat on Saturday and the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Sources told ESPN that Hayward had previously informed the Jazz that he appreciated Rubio’s game and would enjoy playing with the pass-first point guard. Hayward has a strong relationship with point guard George Hill, who helped the Jazz break a four-year playoff drought in his lone season in Utah. However, Jazz management opted not to risk losing Hill in free agency without a suitable replacement after he declined the team’s attempts to sign him to an extension during the season, trading Oklahoma City’s lottery-protected 2018 first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Rubio before the July 1 deadline to use salary cap space remaining from last season.
A strong emphasis in Utah’s pitch to Hayward will be plans to continue to adjust the offense to feature him as his game continues to evolve, according to a source familiar with the Jazz’s thinking. Hayward has blossomed into an All-Star under the tutelage of Snyder and assistant coach Johnnie Bryant — averaging 21.9 points per game last season, a jump of 5.7 points from the season before Snyder’s arrival in the summer of 2014, while dramatically improving his efficiency — and Jazz staff will map out specific areas of growth potential.
The Jazz will stress the opportunity for Hayward to be the No. 1 option on a playoff team with a co-star who complements and enhances his skills in Gobert, 25, a second-team All-NBA big man who was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year and tied for the league lead in screen assists (6.2 per game), many of which freed Hayward for open looks.