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Surely, the Celtics must be coming for Butler next, right? As of Sunday, the talk is based more on speculation than reality, a stance that at least three league executives the Tribune spoke to over the weekend don’t expect to change by Thursday. There is plenty of belief within the league and the Bulls organization that the Celtics are poised to use the No. 3 pick Thursday and then pursue Jazz All-Star Gordon Hayward in free agency come July.
Chris Forsberg: Well, looks like it’s 👀 season again.
Robyn Hayward, the wife of Utah Jazz All-Star Gordon Hayward, posted a completely innocent picture on Instagram of her and her daughter Bernie snuggling with one another. However, NBA fans noticed a potentially subliminal message in the photo as the two-year-old was wearing a green shirt with a shamrock on it that read “Go Green” on the back.
Marc Stein: Free Agency Scuttle: Volume is rising on the whispers that the team worrying Utah in Gordon Hayward’s free agency is Miami as much as Boston
Gordon Hayward will be a free agent this summer, and buzz regarding a reunion with Brad Stevens is starting to ramp up. According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics are “really focused on trying to get Gordon Hayward from Utah in free agency.” Wojnarowski added that he thinks Celtics general manager Danny Ainge will “go really hard after Hayward on July 1.”
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.
“Pins and needles. That’s why I’m saying. Let’s put it this way: if on day one next year it’s Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs will be like ‘okay, that’s going to be a challenge.’ If it’s Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Jimmy Butler, the Cavs might be out there saying ‘we may have to trade Kevin Love.'”
One NBA executive joked recently that it was a two-horse race as it pertains to Hayward’s future, suggesting he’d only meet with the Celtics and Jazz in free agency and if he makes an All-NBA team, then the decision gets easier.
Hayward is now in his seventh (and best) NBA season, all spent with the Jazz. When he did hit restricted free agency in 2014, it was Charlotte—not the Celtics—who made a max offer that was matched by Utah. And while rumors have persisted that the Celtics would somehow land Hayward, the Jazz have never had serious trade talks about dealing Hayward to Boston or anywhere else. To date, at least, the Hayward-to-Boston story has been more myth than reality. But the Celtics will have their best shot at him in the coming months, with Hayward hitting unrestricted free agency this summer and Boston easily able to clear enough cap room to make him a max offer.
The problem is that Utah, winners of 15 of their last 21 games, is in position to make the playoffs for the first time in six years and is just now cashing in on years of difficult rebuilding. They have no desire to let Hayward walk, and with the trading deadline still seven weeks away, they’ve not considered offers for Hayward. That could change. As one league source pointed out, “No one does things more quietly than Utah,” and the 2011 trade of Deron Williams to the Nets, which seemingly came out of the blue, is a good example of that.
Even if Hayward plays his free agency straight and passes on the Designated Player chance, he will be eligible for a five-year deal from Utah worth about $180 million. The best the Celtics—or any other potential suitor—could do would be four years, $132 million. That’s only a difference of about $6 million through four years, but the fifth guaranteed year (at $41 million) is a big advantage for the Jazz.
Celtics forward Jae Crowder doesn’t like Boston fans cheering for opposing players like they did for Gordon Hayward during lineup introductions Tuesday. “I heard the cheering before the game. I didn’t like that at all. I think that was a sign of disrespect to me from the fans,” said Crowder. “That sparked a little fire in me.” Crowder responded with 21 points while making five 3-pointers. “I just felt disrespected,” said Crowder.
Specifically, one reporter mentioned forward Gordon Hayward, whose Utah Jazz are scheduled to visit Boston on Monday night. The Celtics have expressed interest in Hayward before and should have ways to clear enough cap space for a maximum contract this summer. Assuming Hayward explores the market (his decision could be complicated), he will be one of the top players available. “We’re not allowed to talk about that, as you know,” Stevens said after Celtics practice Monday afternoon. “Certainly you have an idea on (the free agency landscape) generally but I don’t get into that stuff because A) it’s not the appropriate time and B) out of respect for the other teams.”
Stevens did praise Hayward’s growth as a player. The 26-year-old — who played under Stevens at Butler — has emerged as one of the NBA’s better all-around wings. “He’s just getting better every year,” Stevens said. “Again, I kind of go back to when we recruited him — he was a skinny tennis player who could do some things on the basketball court. Now he’s got a well-rounded game. I think their staff has really done a great job with him and I think he’s continued to work and progress. He’s a really good player.”
Wojnarowski said Boston’s next big splash might not come until free agency, with small forward Gordon Hayward a prime target given his connection to Brad Stevens from their Butler days. “Danny’s wanted to strike and, like everybody else, get that big star, get that big player,” Wojnarowski said. “[Al] Horford was a big play and a great get in free agency. They can still keep their eye on Gordon Hayward from Utah who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer who played for Brad Stevens at Butler. It think there’s still strong hope in Utah that he’ll want to stay there.”
Wojnarowski added that Hayward liked Utah and would have ample reason to stay, so the Celtics should keep a close eye on the player when deciding whether they’ll give up major assets for someone else who might fill a similar role at the trade deadline. “But Boston’s got to keep their eye on [Hayward’s situation] and sort of monitor it and see [if] can they make a run at him,” Wojnarowski said. “Is he definitely going to re-sign there or might he take a look around in free agency this summer? I think Boston’s got to weigh all that with what kind of a deal they maybe try to get themselves involved with between now and the trade deadline.”
There is probably more buzz surrounding Hayward’s impending free agency than about Paul, Griffin, Kyle Lowry and other starrier names. Hayward is 26, in the meat of his prime, killing it at the thinnest position in the league. Utah waited for Charlotte to max him out last time around, and Hayward has a long memory. The Jazz have a ton of guys to pay, and if they down enough beers (just kidding, it’s Utah!), they might convince themselves they have the wing depth to withstand Hayward bolting. His beloved college coach runs a rising team with an easy roadmap to max cap space — and real interest in Hayward, per several league sources.
There is a sense the Celtics would love to pry away Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who has a player option next year, which few in the NBA believe he’ll exercise meaning he’ll likely be an unrestricted free agent. There were rumors around the draft that Hayward would welcome a trade, but Jazz sources downplayed any reported unhappiness. Still, there is a real risk that Hayward could walk next July.
Jazz sources said it’s highly unlikely the team even considers a trade for Hayward, but that won’t stop the Celtics from checking the temperature there as teams head into the new NBA season in late September.
The Boston Celtics have been pursuing a number of established veterans in the buildup to Thursday’s NBA draft, offering trade packages built around the No. 3 overall pick, according to league sources. But sources told ESPN that the Celtics, to date, have been rebuffed in their efforts to assemble a sufficiently enticing deal to acquire any of these four prime targets: Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton.
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June 24, 2017 | 8:45 am EDT Update
Signing Joel Embiid to a contract extension is one of the 76ers’ offseason priorities, according to managing owner Josh Harris.
Following Friday’s news conference to introduce the Sixers’ four picks in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, Harris said the organization is “focused on it.” “Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”
Since he is heading into his fourth pro season, the Sixers can extend Embiid’s rookie contract from July 1 until the day before the season opener in mid- to late October. The extension would begin with the 2018-19 campaign for a maximum of roughly $130 million for five years or $100 million over four years.
Sources told Ramona Shelburne and I that Noah’s name came up in multiple discussions about possible Porzingis trades with Jackson and the Knicks looking to send out the remainder of the four-year, $72 million contract that he signed last offseason. Butler factored in because one of the many offers discussed between Boston and the Knicks, per sources, included Boston’s third pick, a second 2017 lottery pick and an additional player (Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart were among the names discussed).
The Rockets summer league team on Friday took shape with some interesting names filling out the roster with the current prospects and recent draft picks. The Rockets reached agreement with Ray McCallum Jr., the son of former University of Houston coach Ray McCallum, a person with knowledge of the deal said. McCallum Jr. has played with the Kings, Grizzlies, Spurs and Hornets.
The Rockets also had reached agreements with three prospects that went undrafted on Thursday, Nevada forward Cameron Oliver, Louisiana Tech forward Erik McCree, and Georgetown guard L.J. Peak. On Friday, the Rockets added Brazilian guard George de Paulo, Duke guard Matt Jones and Vipers forward Chris Johnson.
Undrafted rookie guard Andrew White III agreed to join the Cavaliers for the 2017 NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, a source told cleveland.com. White, who is 6-7, led his team with 18.5 points in his lone season at Syracuse and was a third-team All-ACC selection. He also played collegiately at Nebraska and Kansas.