Before the NBA trade deadline in February, there were numerous rumors that the Boston Celtics were very interested in making a deal for Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward. A trade was not consummated for the 6-foot-8 NBA All-Star, but the buzz surrounding Hayward and the Celtics continues to build in the current batch of NBA rumors and news.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has reported that Boston is a serious contender to sign Hayward this summer, and he goes into detail regarding the Celtics’ chances of bringing Gordon Hayward to Boston. Wojnarowski stated during a recent podcast that Utah is feeling the pressure over Hayward’s impending free agency, knowing that the Celtics have the interest and the cap space to sign Hayward — as well as a coach, Brad Stevens, who happens to have a close relationship with Hayward from the days when Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University.
“This isn’t the reason Boston didn’t make a deal (at the NBA trade deadline), but it is part of their thought: ‘Why would we give up all of our assets for Paul George and Jimmy Butler when we could go out in free agency and sign Gordon Hayward?’ They’re going to go hard after him.
“They (the Utah Jazz) want to be able to achieve in the postseason and show Gordon, ‘Hey, we’ve got a group here for you that we’re going to win big with,’ but Boston is in a pretty good position. They’ve got a pretty good situation. They are going to take a shot at him, assuming they don’t do something big at the (NBA) draft.”
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The talk in the rumor mill is that Gordon Hayward will either re-sign with the Utah Jazz, or join the Boston Celtics as a free agent. Many media outlets, including iSports Times, feel that the most likely scenario is that Hayward will go to the Celtics to play alongside two other NBA All-Stars, point guard Isaiah Thomas and forward/center Al Horford. NBA players who have been in the league for a few years begin to prioritize winning over most everything else, so the Jazz are hoping for a deep playoff run in 2017 so they can persuade Gordon Hayward to remain in Utah.
According to Spotrac, the Boston Celtics could have as much as $30 million in salary cap space available when free agency begins on July 1, so having the cap space to offer Gordon Hayward a max contract this summer is very likely. Hayward has been a very productive NBA player now for several years, and his career continues to trend upward (making his first All-Star appearance in 2017), so whoever signs Hayward this summer will have to offer him the maximum allowed salary by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Utah Jazz are also going to be faced with the task of re-signing point guard George Hill, who the team acquired in a three-way trade with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks on July 7, 2016. Hill is having a phenomenal year for the Jazz, so he has not only made himself indispensable to the team, but expensive as well. George Hill is likely to command such a large free agent deal that Utah may have to decide between Hayward and Hill when it comes down to the 11th hour.
The competition between the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz for the services of Gordon Hayward are going to continue to dominate NBA rumors and news for the next few months, and that battle may be just as intriguing to follow as what happens on the basketball floor between now and then. All signs point toward the Boston Celtics as the leading contender to land Hayward, but the Utah Jazz are still in the fight — even if they may have to concede George Hill as a result of retaining Hayward. Celtics Nation could be salivating over the potential acquisition of Gordon Hayward, and with a little patience, there is a good chance they will get their wish.
[Featured Image by Elise Amendola/AP Images]