Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz swingman, will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and the Boston Celtics are confident that they can sign the sweet-shooting wing, per a source.
Hayward and Celtics coach Brad Stevens share a long history. Stevens was the coach at Butler during Hayward’s two-year collegiate career in Indianapolis.
Hayward, drafted 10th overall by Utah Jazz in 2010, has been a borderline all-star in the NBA, fresh off a career-high season which saw him average 19.7 points and 5 rebounds.
Gordon Hayward to Celtics a lock?
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, several league sources believe that Hayward would decline his 2017-18 player option and enter free agency next offseason. In such a scenario, the Celtics would be the favorites to sign Hayward a year after signing all-star Al Horford.
Kyler speculated that Celtics could try to trade for Hayward this summer if the Jazz want to secure future assets. “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,” Kyler wrote last week.
The Celtics are expected to check the temperature on a possible Hayward trade but remain confident they can sign the 26-year-old next year. “It’s easy to lock in on Hayward as the best long-term option, especially due to his history with Celtics coach Brad Stevens, but the truth of that situation is the Jazz are not overly interested in moving Hayward and to get them to the table may cost a lot more than the Celtics wants to spend,” added Kyler.
It seems like Jae Crowder, Boston’s starting small forward isn’t thrilled with the idea of Hayward joining the team next year (see tweet below). After all, Hayward would swoop in and take Crowder’s place as a starter!
In recent years, the Celtics haven’t been a favorable destination for marquee free agents. However, Horford’s signing seems to have changed that perception and Gordon Hayward could be the next top-flight free agent to join Boston.
— JAE CROWDER (@CJC9BOSS) July 19, 2016