No shame in owning a man crush, never ever ever. One heterosexual man professing an over-the-top fondness for another man is as normal as it gets, as an entire generation weaned on Jon Hamm’s square jaw and quick wit can attest. That Jon Hamm is a handsome fella. Handsome, handsome fella.
Where was I? Oh, yes, a man crush – nothing wrong with it. Now, indirectly equating the work of Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward to the peak years of Tracy McGrady’s time in Orlando? Now there’s an abomination above all. Shame on you, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
Asked about the Jazz’s fourth-year swingman before Wednesday night’s preseason game and the Clippers head coach had to interrupt.
"I have a man crush on that guy," Rivers said. "He’s really good."
But Rivers also foresees a tough year ahead for the promising Hayward. As he spoke to reporters before the game, Rivers reflected back on his time as the head coach of the Orlando Magic, when Grant Hill was out with an injury and Tracy McGrady became the team’s only real scoring threat.
"I just always felt bad for [McGrady]," he said. "When you’re the guy and you’re the only guy for a while — there’s other guys, but I’m talking superstar — that’s a hard job and Gordon will find that out this year."
Now, Rivers didn’t directly align Hayward’s 2013-14 potential in his upcoming fourth season with McGrady’s fourth season and first without Grant Hill, one in which T-Mac averaged a gangbuster 26.8 points per game alongside a combined 12.1 rebounds/assists and a combined three blocks/steals, but even the sheer mention leaves us a little put off.
With that in place, Hayward will have to work as perhaps his team’s primary offensive option on a rebuilding team that boasts Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins as its two highest-paid players. With Al Jefferson in Charlotte and Paul Millsap having fled to Atlanta, the Jazz are going with the youth movement. And after a day or two of scouting in advance of Los Angeles’ game against the Jazz, Rivers probably felt for the guy. Maybe even picked up a little crush.
Hayward and fellow fourth-year man Derrick Favors will struggle to put up points in Jefferson and Millsap’s absence, but nobody should weep for these two. You’ll recall that Favors recently signed a four-year, $49 million contract extension with the Jazz. Hayward is up for an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline as well, and according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the obvious heir to Tracy McGrady could be cashing in. In ways that exceed Favors’ compensation, even:
That’s a lot of scratch. That, to be frank, is more than I would give Hayward, though Gordon’s scoring marks (17.4 points per 36 minutes on 41 percent shooting from long range) at (mostly) age 22 are to be admired.
If Gordon and the Jazz fail to come to terms, and Hayward seeks out a new team as a restricted free agent next summer? Well, Hayward should just get ready for a lot of phone calls and texts from a 310 area code. The Clippers can’t afford Hayward, but Gordon should at least let Doc down easy.
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