For the second year in a row, a major free agent player in the NBA has decided their future on the Fourth of July. Last year, it was Kevin Durant. In 2017, it is Gordon Hayward, who made his decision on America’s birthday.
Gordon Hayward is taking his talents to Beantown, as Chris Haynes of ESPN has reported that Hayward will sign a 4/$128M contract with the Boston Celtics for 4 years.
Before Tuesday, Hayward was deciding between the Celtics, the Miami Heat or the team he previously played with, the Utah Jazz. Many had felt that with the addition of Ricky Rubio, Utah’s chances of retaining Hayward would improve. But ultimately, the lure of his former college coach may have been a deciding factor.
Gordon Hayward will reunite with Brad Stevens, who coached him when he attended Butler University, and will now coach him again in the NBA. Hayward is joining a team that features Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder and the number three pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in Jayson Tatum.
Gordon Hayward is also joining a Celtics team that owned the best record in the Eastern Conference and won their division but were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. After Boston had lost, many felt Hayward signing with Boston would become more of a reality to give them more firepower to try and compete with the Cavaliers, who are considered the favorites in the East to make it back to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.
Boston had tried to land Paul George from the Indiana Pacers in the past to try and overtake the Cavaliers for the best team in the East, but he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead. Boston’s efforts to land Gordon Hayward likely intensified once free agency started since they weren’t signing any other players and put their primary focus on him.
The 27-year-old Hayward averaged 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 73 with the Jazz this past season. Hayward has spent his entire career with Utah, as he was a former first-round pick of the team back in the 2010 NBA Draft, going ninth overall in the draft that year.