Searching for star players has been on the minds of the Boston Celtics‘ front office for the past three years. The Celtics have all of the pieces already in place to go on a deep playoff run. If the plan is to compete for an NBA championship, the Celtics could use one more star player. Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward might be the player who can get the Celtics over the hump.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas and center Al Horford headline a Celtics’ team filled with solid players. A couple of those players could be used as bait to snag a star.
Surveying the NBA trade market is what the Celtics have done and will continue to do. If the Utah Jazz were to test the waters on a Gordon Hayward trade, look for the Celtics to strike. If the Jazz do not make the pending free agent available via trade, the Celtics can simply wait out the process.
According to New England Sports Network, Utah Jazz have made Gordon Hayward available before. During the offseason, the Celtics were offering the Jazz their No. 3 pick in the most recent NBA draft. Also on the table was one or two key players from the Celtics’ postseason run.
It may have been a wise choice for the Jazz to hold firm and not trade Hayward. Utah will have a few tough financial decisions to make next summer. The biggest question the Jazz will face is how to distribute their salary among their starting frontcourt.
Although the NBA salary cap is higher than it ever was, the Utah Jazz are a small market team. In fact, the Jazz are in the bottom-five of all NBA markets. That does not necessarily generate the revenue needed for the Jazz to sustain itself in the event that they live up to the lofty expectations.
All signs point to the Jazz holding on Hayward for the entire season. They view themselves as a playoff contender, but the fear of not having financial flexibility is real. The Jazz’s offseason trade (courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune) of center Tibor Pleiss was a financial move. It was made so that the Jazz could have a little bit of room to sign power forward Derrick Favors to a contract extension before the season gets underway.
That may not be good news for the Boston Celtics, who would love for the Jazz to falter so they can pounce on the roster. And by signing Favors to an extension, it would make for a less muddled roster situation in Utah. Also, the Jazz would have the flexibility needed to tackle Hayward’s free agency status.
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The best case scenario for the Celtics and their interest in Gordon Hayward is for the Jazz to struggle early.
Because the Western Conference is not as top heavy as it once was, there will be a group of teams stuck in the middle. That will create chaos and panic among the general managers whose teams have not distinguished themselves as a sure-fire playoff team.
The Celtics will be monitoring things closely. If the Jazz are one of those teams who are in the middle, they may want to do something to enhance their chances. If so, moving one of their best players will receive some consideration.
Again, it is most likely that Gordon Hayward will not get traded during the season. So, if the Celtics want to pursue Hayward, the chances are that they will do so when he becomes a free agent.
Here lies a problem for the Boston Celtics.
If the Celtics were to add another star player in a trade this season, it would take them out of the running for Gordon Hayward and any of the top free agents next year. The Celtics have their eyes on Hayward. The Celtics also would love to have Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love, but they are not coming to Boston.
Everything will boil down to how bold the Boston Celtics want to be and how patient they can be. The latter is not the problem, but the problem is being bold. If the Boston Celtics do not dangle their best assets, no team will make a trade with them, including the Utah Jazz. The Celtics will not be acquiring Gordon Hayward or anyone else without doing that.
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