Posted on July 5, 2017, by Travis Pulver
With how easily the Cleveland Cavaliers vanquished the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, one thing becomes painfully clear. While the Celtics had a talented team, they needed more. If they were going to take down the Cavaliers and have a prayer against the Golden State Warriors, they needed to add someone to the roster.
So, they did.
Technically, they added two guys. They took Duke small forward Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick in the draft. But they just added another guy via free agency that has the NBA-loving free world abuzz–Gordon Hayward.
Hayward spent the last seven years in Utah developing his game. The work paid off this season with his first All-Star nod and only his second trip to the postseason. As the start of free agency approached, he told the Jazz he would be opting out of his contract and giving free agency a look.
He instantly became the prize catch of the off-season. Several teams showed interest, but it was widely believed he would be taking his considerable talents to South Beach, staying put in Utah, or heading out to the East Coast to join the Boston Celtics.
It will become official when he signs his contract, but he announced his decision through an essay he posted to The Players’ Tribune—he’s heading to Boston.
He will be signing a four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics with a player option for the final year (which will allow him to hit another massive payday after he has completed his tenth season in the league).
The move was not a shocking one. His former college coach, Brad Stevens, is now the head coach of the Celtics. Hayward played well for Stevens back when the two were at Butler, and even came within a shot of winning a national championship. He admitted the opportunity to play once again for Stevens was a factor in his decision.
“And that unfinished business we [Stevens and Hayward] 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.”
The question now becomes how long it may take for him and Stevens to get that second chance together. The team is going to lose a lot of players in order to make room for Hayward’s contract. Kelly Olynyk’s qualifying offer had to be pulled, effectively making him a free agent. They will likely renounce their rights to Jonas Jerebko, James Young, and Gerald Green.
But while they will have to let a few guys go and may even lose a rotation player, the starting group will be retained.
So—the Celtics will have a group that won 53 games last season. What will the addition of Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum do for the team?
Chances are they will still win 50+ games next season. They will make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face off with the Cleveland Cavaliers—again. But will the outcome be any different? Absolutely—but not necessarily with a series win for the Celtics.
Boston was dominated by Cleveland in the conference finals last season. It wasn’t just bad—it was downright ugly. Gordon will bring a lot to the table for the Celtics, but it is hard to imagine him being enough to flip the script on the Cavaliers.
It will, however, be a much better series than it was last year.