Gordon Hayward was the prize free agency signing for the Boston Celtics this offseason and they were expecting him to help them compete with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that Hayward’s season has ended just six minutes into the season.
After going up for an alley-oop pass from Kyrie Irving, Hayward came down hard on his leg and fractured his ankle. If Hayward’s injury costs him the remainder of the season, the Celtics are in a bit of predicament moving forward. There is a chance that he could return from the injury, but that information is not known yet.
Brad Stevens and company were already going to deal with depth problems. Now, with the loss of Hayward, their depth problems are going to be even worse. Boston could apply for a Disabled Player Exception, which would give them $8.4 million to sign, trade, or claim a player with one-year left on his deal.
If they do choose to do that, what could be next for the Celtics? Also, if they do not choose to bring in another player, what will they need from their current roster?
First and foremost, the Celtics will likely strongly consider acquiring a new player to help replace Hayward. There are a few players that could make sense for them in a trade.
One potential option could be Indiana Pacers’ forward Thaddeus Young. He is in the final season of his contract and the Pacers are in a bit of a rebuilding stage. There is no guarantee that Indiana would want to trade him, but Young could help ease the pain of losing Hayward.
Last season with the Pacers, Young averaged 11.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He played with an injured wrist for a good portion of the season, which hurt him in a big way. Young shot 52.7 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 38.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
Another option for the Celtics could be Kent Bazemore from the Atlanta Hawks. He may not be available in trade talks, but would certainly add some scoring and floor spacing for the offense.
Bazemore averaged 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game last season. He shot 40.9 percent from the floor overall and connected on 34.6 percent of his three-pointers. Not only is he a good offensive player, Bazemore is also a more than capable perimeter defender.
What If They Don’t Acquire A Player?
On the other hand, the Celtics might decide to stick with their current roster. What would they need from their roster in order to weather the storm without Hayward?
Quite simply, the Celtics would need their young wing players to step up in a big way. Rookie Jayson Tatum will be asked to handle a much larger role than expected, while Jaylen Brown would be asked to take on a larger role as well. Both players are capable of playing at a new level.
Stevens is one of the best head coaches in the NBA when it comes to using players the best way. He has developed many young stars in his career and can do it again. Losing Hayward is a heartbreaking blow for Stevens, who coached him in college at Butler, but he has other talented players to work with as well.
All of that being said, it will be interesting to see what the Celtics decide to do moving forward. Hopefully, Hayward will be able to return from his injury at some point later in the season. In the meantime, it would not be surprising to see Boston make a roster move to beef up their rotation.
Do you think the Boston Celtics should make a trade for one of the two players listed above? What other players would you add to the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Winslow Townson/AP Images]