LAS VEGAS --? Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert says he isn't angry at Gordon Hayward for choosing to leave for the Boston Celtics, but expressed disappointment with the manner in which the All-Star small forward's free-agency decision occurred.
"You cannot be mad at somebody for wanting to play for another team," Gobert told ESPN while watching the Jazz's summer league team in Las Vegas. "It's just the way he handled it, that's the thing I didn't like. I'm happy for him at the same time. I hope he's going to be happy over there and get what he's looking for."
The Jazz were left in limbo for the six hours between the time that ESPN's Chris Haynes broke the news that Hayward intended to sign with the Celtics and Hayward publicly announced the decision to leave the Jazz with an essay published on The Players' Tribune. In the meantime, Hayward's camp said that he had not reached a decision. Utah management was not informed that Hayward had chosen to leave the Jazz until minutes before he went public with his decision.
Hayward did not inform Gobert or other teammates before announcing that he was leaving for Boston.
"To all his teammates, all the guys that he competed with for years, guys that sacrificed for him and for the team, not necessarily tell us but make sure as a team we can keep going forward if he leaves," said Gobert, who traveled to San Diego along with Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood the previous day for the Jazz's pitch to Hayward. "I think that wasn't the best way to do it, but I'm over it now. I'm just focused on the team."
In the wake of Hayward's announcement, Gobert posted a video on Instagram of him singing along with Chris Brown's "Loyal." However, Gobert would not acknowledge that the video was a shot at Hayward's perceived disloyalty.
"I was just listening to music," Gobert said, suppressing a smile. "I always do that. I always listen to music in my car and put up videos."
Gobert, 25, who was a second-team All-NBA selection and the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, was adamant that he remains encouraged by the direction of the Jazz's franchise despite Hayward's departure following a 51-win season and first-round playoff victory.
Gobert, who is entering the first year of a four-year, $102 million contract extension, pointed to the trade for Rubio, the addition of lottery pick and summer league star Donovan Mitchell and the anticipated continued development of the Jazz's young players as reasons for optimism.
"When you see the young guys and Ricky joining us, I'm very excited," Gobert said. "We might end up being better than last year. Who knows? I think we're going to keep getting better every year. The goal is to keep getting better and keep competing. The goal is still the same: win a championship in the close future.
"Watching summer league, watching the guys, I'm very confident. I'm excited for our team. Obviously, we lost Gordon, but we are still a very good team. We're going to show people that we're a good team."