The Celtics Are Looking To Add One More Piece To Their Championship Puzzle, Can A Familiar Face Be The Answer?
Over the past couple years, rumors indicated that Gordon Hayward was not happy in Utah and may be interested in playing for Boston. He was even linked to a possible trade that would have sent him to the Celtics for the third pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Hayward is expected to opt out of his contract after the 2016-17 season, but while it appears that Hayward plans to return to the Jazz, here are ten reasons he may consider a move to Boston:
- Hayward wants to play with All-Star caliber players. He sees what Boston GM Danny Ainge has built and wants to be a part of it. When Al Horford signed with Boston, the Celtics added an All-Star to an already good team. Horford joined fellow all-star Isaiah Thomas to lead a team that is only a piece or two away from being a contender in the east. Hayward believes himself to be what is needed to turn a good Celtics team into a great team.
- Hayward wants to play with a good point guard. Since the Deron Williams trade, George Hill is the best point guard the Jazz have had. Unfortunately, Hayward and Hill have only played one regular season game together. While this will likely change, if the Jazz don’t extend Hill and Exum doesn’t show marked improvement this year, playing with Isaiah Thomas might be enough to entice Hayward to the Celtics.
- He could reunite with his Butler coach, Brad Stevens. Hayward’s ties to his college coach are strong. He developed into a high draft pick at Butler under Stevens, and the Bulldogs fell just short of an NCAA championship in 2010. Hayward believes that Coach Stevens will continue helping him become his best, and he’ll finally be able to give his old coach a title.
- He’ll have an easier path to the finals. Out west, the Jazz will struggle to get past the Spurs, the Clippers, and the Warriors. If Hayward signs with the Celtics, the only real obstacle he’ll have to face in the east is the Cavaliers, with the aging superstar LeBron James.
- Hayward wants to play with a more experienced team. He has spent most of his career with a developing young core that hasn’t been good enough to even make it to the playoffs. Hayward would like to spend his prime with a more veteran team who can earn a spot in the playoffs and contend for a title.
- Health. Injuries continue to derail the Jazz. Hayward may finally shake off the injury bug on a different team. He may wish to return to his home in Indiana for his summer strength and conditioning program, as he has done prior to this past offseason, but the Jazz have made it clear that they prefer he works out in Utah. Changing teams may be a good opportunity to return to his preferred routine.
- Change of scenery. Hayward may want to trade his view of the mountains for the ocean. Hayward may also may wish to enjoy all that a big city offers, including more lucrative endorsement deals.
- Utah struggles to bring in free agents. Despite all the effort Hayward has put into his game to become an All-Star caliber player, the Jazz have failed to bring in another All-Star to get the Jazz to the top. Hayward is in his prime and he wants to win now, but Utah is not known for attracting top-tier players. He may feel that the only way to surround himself with the talent it takes to win is to sign with a team that already has it.
- Hayward may be unhappy with Utah’s schemes. After three seasons, Hayward may have stopped buying in to Coach Quin Snyder’s system. While this is unlikely, since the Jazz have increased their win total each year since Snyder was hired, but if the Jazz miss the playoffs again, Hayward may be ready for different leadership.
- Hayward may be mature enough to play second banana. Very few are. Hayward realizes that he’s just not good enough to lead a team deep into the playoffs and have a legitimate shot at an NBA title. He may believe that the only way to get the coveted championship ring is by riding the backs of better players, as others have done.
While Hayward has indicated that he is happy in Utah, and the Jazz want to re-sign him next summer, there is always the possibility that it may not happen. If Hayward elects to explore the free agent market and finds a new situation where he believes he can win a championship, the Jazz could lose their star player and a valuable asset with nothing to show for it, which would leave the Jazz organization and the fans in Utah singing the blues.