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NBA Free Agency: Hayward decision a ‘tossup’

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Pat Riley should keep his eye on other free agents as Hayward mulls over his options.

NBA: Miami Heat at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency just hours away, Gordon Hayward is reportedly entering meetings with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz with an open mind.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson quotes “a source very close to the player” as saying that, “It’s still completely a tossup.” Jackson also said that Hayward has emerged as the clear Heat favorite in free agency. The Heat likely won’t hear a decision from Hayward until after his meeting with the Jazz on Monday.

Pat Riley should remain in close contact with Dion Waiters and James Johnson at the start of free agency. The worst-case scenario for Miami would be waiting for Hayward while other good free agents agree to deals.

To some extent, this issue happened last year as Riley pitched Kevin Durant on a future in Miami. Dwyane Wade felt disrespected that Riley prioritized Hassan Whiteside and Durant over him. After both Durant and Wade declined offers from Miami, Riley had to turn to less-glitzy names — Johnson, Waiters and Wayne Ellington. All those players worked out for the Heat last year, but who knows if Miami will get lucky again?

But it looks like the Hayward chase won’t be as tough of a sell as the Durant pitch was last year. We’ll eventually see how Riley will sell Hayward on a future in Miami.