CLEVELAND (AP) — Gordon Hayward once named Cleveland his least favorite NBA city. He might have to change his mind.
Utah’s restricted free agent small forward has scheduled a meeting with the Cavaliers, who have turned their sights to improving their roster after getting All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to agree to a contract extension.
Hayward agreed Wednesday to meet with team officials, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Cavs are not commenting during the NBA’s 10-day free agency moratorium.
The Cavs have an interest in Hayward and wanted to bring the 24-year-old in for preliminary talks, said the person. Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season, his fourth with the Jazz, who selected the 6-foot-8 former Butler star with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
If the Cavs choose to sign Hayward to an offer sheet, under NBA rules the Jazz will have three days to match it. Utah has expressed a willingness to keep Hayward.
Last month, the Jazz extended a qualifying offer to Hayward, making him a restricted free agent and ensuring they would be able to have a chance to retain him. Hayward made 77 starts last season.
In February, Hayward was asked by jazzfanatical.com to name his favorite and least favorite NBA cities. He picked Miami and Phoenix as his preferred spots because of the warmth and son.
At the other end?
“Since I’ve been in the league, probably Cleveland,” he said. “Cleveland to me is like Gotham City. It’s, like, so dreary, and just, I don’t know, and then ever since LeBron left, I mean, the fans, they’re starting to pick up a little bit more, but I remember my rookie year, there was hardly anybody there.”
Cleveland opened free agency Tuesday by offering Irving a five-year, $90 million extension. Irving accepted the deal, showing his commitment to the Cavs, who in the past two weeks have hired new coach, drafted Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins first overall and now locked up their best player through the 2019-20 season. Irving can’t sign his new deal until July 10.