Gordon Hayward has finally decided that he looked better in Celtic Green than in a Jazz jersey thus marking the biggest NBA free agent domino to fall this offseason.
Hayward will sign a four-year contract with the Boston Celtics that will pay him a total of $127 million. The free agent forward finally agreed to join his former Butler coach after reports that the All-Star was going back and forth with his decision. According to Total Pro Sports, Gordon changed his mind at least four times before making it final that he will reunite with Brad Stevens and join a team that was first in the Eastern Conference standings during the previous NBA season.
Hayward made his announcement via The Players’ Tribune as reported by the Boston Herald. In an article titled “Thank You Utah,” Hayward shared how difficult it was for him to make a decision. In the end, his relationship with Stevens and the idea of finally winning together played a major role.
“And that unfinished business we had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA… as far as I’m concerned, all of these years later, we still have it: “And that’s to win a championship.”
As torn as Hayward was with his decision, people in Boston are delighted. NBA All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, for one, won the battle of emojis against Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert. Thomas described Hayward as the kind of player that the Celtics need to reach the NBA Finals.
This leaves the Utah Jazz scrambling for a replacement for their former franchise player. The Jazz was looking at Otto Porter, Jr., the Washington Wizards restricted free agent, to join its young core of Gobert, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, and newly acquired point guard Ricky Rubio. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey believes the team is good enough to have a fighting chance in the NBA even without Hayward, whom he wished “the very best.”
However, the Jazz got another black eye as Porter recently agreed to a four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets which the Wizards are expected to match. Utah will now set its sights on free agent veteran Rudy Gay who has also gotten interest from Golden State, Oklahoma City, Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
It must be noted that Hayward supposedly told the Jazz management that he wanted to play with Rubio. Unfortunately, the Spaniard’s presence in the team was not enough for “Stayward” to happen.
Miami, another suitor that Hayward spurned, will now focus on its own free agents in James Johnson and Dion Waiters who have been linked with a number of teams including the Lakers and New York. The Heat will also look at retaining Wayne Ellington and guaranteeing his $6.3 million contract. Expect Miami to dip into the free agent pool after showing some interest on Gay and Javale MacGee. Patrick Patterson, another free agent the Heat was considering, has recently signed with OKC.
As for Boston, as fortunate they are to land an All-Star-caliber player in Hayward, Danny Ainge must now figure out a way to fit his max contract into the team’s salary cap. The likely fallout of this free agent coup is the possible loss of any of the following: starters Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder and backups Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, who is now an unrestricted free agent after Boston renounced him. Power forward Amir Johnson is already gone after signing a free agent contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. Jonas Jerebko and Gerald Green, who’s being eyed by Minnesota, are also expected to play elsewhere in the next NBA season.
The 76ers are proving that trusting “The Process” was the right move as it recently signed free agent sharpshooter J.J. Redick after inking the former Boston big man. Redick and Johnson will join a young Philly team led by Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, and 2017 NBA Draft first overall pick Markelle Fultz.
It has been an unbelievable offseason for the NBA with superstars such as Chris Paul, Paul George, and now Gordon Hayward changing jerseys. Paul Millsap will now don the Denver Nuggets jersey after being involved in a three-team trade which also saw Jamal Crawford going to the Hawks and Danilo Gallinari landing in Clipperland. Zach Randolph, meanwhile, has struck a deal to join the Sacramento Kings.
New York’s Carmelo Anthony is also a candidate to play for another NBA team next season. It is rumored that he may end up with Cleveland or Houston once he agrees to ditch his no-trade clause. Another NBA star, Chris Bosh, was officially waived by the Heat, marking what could be the end of his illustrious career. Heat President Pat Riley has expressed their intentions of retiring his number.
With the big names gone, the rest of the NBA will have to settle on signing lesser-known yet serviceable free agent players. Some of the best players still in the free agent pool are former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, Vince Carter, Deron Williams, Aron Afflalo, Tony Allen, Brandon Bass, Michael Beasley, Andrew Bogut, Trey Burke, Tyreke Evans, Jeff Green, Tim Hardaway Jr., Ersan Ilyasova, Rajon Rondo, and Manu Ginobili.
[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]