Storyline: Gordon Hayward to Celtics

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David Locke: Really disappointing news for Jazz Nation. Gordon Hayward grew up with us and became a star under the tutelage of the Utah Jazz. Compounding the frustration is the Jazz did everything right over the last months to secure a contract from Gordon including consulting with him on moves. It feels as thought consciously or unconsciously Gordon has his mind made up in this process a long time ago. The quote from Sam Amick that he was torn makes me think the Jazz rocked his world in the last few weeks and made him reconsider.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported the Boston Celtics feel “really, really good” about their chances of landing top free agent Gordon Hayward. After meeting with the Celtics, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz, Hayward reportedly slept on his decision Monday night. He is expected to reveal his choice either Tuesday or Wednesday. “I will say this: I’m hearing Boston is feeling really good about their chances of getting him,” Haynes said on television. “I don’t know what that means, but I’ve been talking to people in Boston. They feel really, really good about their shot. So it’s going to be tough. He met with Utah in San Diego for over three hours last night. Ricky Rubio actually flew from Spain to go down there and be present in that meeting. So they’re laying it all out. And like I said, it would be really tough on the Jazz faithful if he were to bolt, knowing what the Jazz did to try putting themselves in position.”

As for Hayward’s worth, Marcus Smart certainly offered a large endorsement on the first day of his youth camp at Brandeis. “He’s an awesome player,” the Celtics guard said of Hayward, who averaged 21.9 points for Utah this past season. “The dude, he understands the game very well, and, you know,” he added with a laugh, “I think it’s ’cause he had Brad (Stevens) as a coach (at Butler). “But, no, I’m kidding. No, the dude, he’s incredible. He’s a great player. He’s a great guy. I think I speak for a lot of guys in this league when I say that.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Brian Windhorst: With seven years’ experience, Hayward’s best bet could be to seek out a three-year contract so he could become a free agent again when he’s got 10 years in and he can get the largest contract possible. Or, more likely, he could look for a four-year deal with an opt-out after three years. Over the next three seasons, the difference between Hayward signing in Utah and, say, Boston is less than $3 million. Gulp. This is why the Jazz are a little skittish.

The C’s have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and they also could sign another top free agent, similar to their approach last offseason when they drafted Jaylen Brown and signed Al Horford. But who would that free agent be? The Vertical’s Chris Mannix has a pretty good idea. “The next step for this team, that’s got to be Gordon Hayward,” Mannix said on CSNNE’s “Celtics Pregame Live.” “That is a guy who can help this team immediately. And that’s a guy I believe is Boston’s No. 1 target this summer.”

Virtually any team with cap space should pursue Hayward, but considering his desire to contend for a title, it’s difficult to pinpoint a situation better than the one he’s in now. The only realistic team with max cap space and a less treacherous road to the NBA Finals than the Jazz is the Celtics. Brad Stevens coached Gordon Hayward for two years at Butler and the two have a bond that extends back to Hayward’s high school days. There have been rumblings about the duo reuniting ever since Stevens took the Celtics job in 2013; if there’s one looming threat to Utah for Hayward, it’s Boston.
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