Gordon Hayward was waiting. And he was about to be late.

The Jazz rookie forward watched the clock strike 9 Friday morning. Then Hayward's eyes began to pore over Utah's nearly deserted practice facility as he quietly searched for his friend.

Normally, Hayward's sidekick was never late. Not for midnight one-on-one shooting contests at the practice facility. Not for pregame warm-up sessions followed by fan-friendly autograph signings. Not for heated Xbox matchups that Hayward always owns, or laughter-filled locker-room conversations in which Hayward would go on and on about his long-distance relationship, while his friend - becoming more like a brother than just another teammate as a long, challenging season wore on - would chomp on popcorn, smile and simply nod.

So Hayward stayed put. He continued to watch the clock, hold out hope and postpone a weight-lifting session that would soon pack more muscle onto his once slender frame.

But Jeremy Evans never arrived.

Hayward's closest friend in Salt Lake City - a fellow Jazz rookie forward - had suddenly been called away, temporarily shipped to Orem to play for the NBA Development League's Utah Flash.

The duo had survived Summer League, media day, training camp, regular-season success and failure, and the drama-filled departures of Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams. And in between all the trash talking, endless encouragement and bullet rides in Evans' "Transformers"-like, yellow-and-black Camaro, the rookies had never been apart.