Rudy Gobert is not surprised Gordon Hayward left the Utah Jazz for the Boston Celtics.
To the contrary, by the end of Utah’s sales pitch to the All-Star forward, Gobert expected him to leave for Beantown, per the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Tony Jones:
He said he learned of Hayward’s departure through Twitter, although he and Hayward have since spoken. Gobert doesn’t begrudge Hayward choosing to leave the Jazz — at the same time, he wishes Hayward had done things differently.
“I’m not surprised Gordon left,” Gobert said. “I could sense he was leaning toward Boston.”
It’s funny (i.e. predictable) how all of this comes out now, after the fact. Everyone was so sure the Jazz were in the running right up until the announcement was official. To hear this recount, about how it was sort of clear Hayward would be leaving, is convenient.
And that’s fine.
What else were the people from the Jazz, including Gobert, supposed to say at the time? That they had a strong inkling Hayward would be signing with the Celtics? That they weren’t going to wait on him, a top-20 player, to make his decision, before fleshing out the rest of the roster?
Teams don’t do that, not even if they and their foremost recruiters “sense” that something’s amiss. Moving on before anything is official just pushes the player into the arms of another team. Incumbents have to wait it out. That’s the protocol when dealing with a star.
This isn’t to say Gobert is fibbing, or that he didn’t sense the end was near. In all likelihood, he did. Perhaps many people with the organization did. Hayward has been linked to the Celtics ever since Brad Stevens was named head coach in 2013. This is a move that’s been years in the making, and for all the push and pull and hesitation involved in Hayward’s delivery, it’s not hard to believe that he tipped his hand long before rumors of his decision leaked.