The Heat made a strong presentation to free agent Gordon Hayward on Saturday and emerged believing it went very well.
Hayward was greeted by five Heat players - Hassan Whiteside, Udonis Haslem, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and free agent James Johnson. He also met with president Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, Alonzo Mourning and several other coaches and executives.
Besides telling Hayward all of the obvious positives of playing here - weather, lack of state income tax, the Heat culture and championship pedigree - coaches also explained to Hayward how the offense would play to his strengths.
Celtics will keep their meeting with Gordon Hayward relatively small tomorrow, with IT, Horford, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge and ownership.
Obviously Hayward's former coach Brad Stevens is a key. As will Danny Ainge and the team's vision. but Isaiah Thomas could be the deciding factor. There have been rumors out there (fair or not) that other star players and possibly Hayward don't want to play with him. The argument I guess is that he is a ball dominant point guard who looks for his shot first.
Three league sources sense the current favorite for Gordon Hayward is Miami. Reasons: better lifestyle, Spoelstra, "feature scoring role."
In Isaiah's defense (no pun intended. I mean he did get a 2nd place NBA All-Defensive team vote!), the Celtics roster the past few years has not included any other big time scorers. Thomas has been playing the Allen Iverson role where he gets 30 a night and the other guys take care of everything else. What Thomas needs to say to Hayward tomorrow is, "Hey I'd love to give up some of my shot attempts to you. I'd love for you to be the focal offensive player on the Celtics. I can then concentrate more on passing and have more energy on the defensive end. At the end of the say, I just want to win!"
If this happens I think Hayward chooses Boston. If Hayward feels like he'd be Robin to Isaiah's Batman, I think Hayward chooses Miami and their "featured scoring role," weather and no state taxes. Or he returns to Utah where again he'd be the featured offensive guy and he's most familiar.
You can argue all you want who should be the #1 guy in Boston between Isaiah and Gordon, but in the high stakes game of recruiting saying the right thing at the time often decides if get the prize. Here's hoping Isaiah closes out the meeting like he does a 4th quarter. Doing what he needs to do for the Celtics to bring home the win.