Gordon Hayward

Celtics Notes: Pagliuca, Hayward, Bird, Ojeleye

Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca promises the team is ready to become a taxpayer again if that’s what it takes to win a title, relays Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Pagliuca says it’s not a guarantee that the franchise will cross the tax threshold next summer when Isaiah Thomas enters free agency, but vows that potential tax penalties won’t affect the decision on Thomas.

Pagliuca adds that cap management is becoming important again after last summer’s spending spree, which factored into the decision to trade Avery Bradley to the Pistons to make room for Gordon Hayward. “There was a time when teams had lots of cap space with the increase in revenues,” Pagliuca said. “Now we’re entering a period where cap management becomes imperative. Now we’re going back to the future, where people had to work hard for cap space.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Hayward is denying reports that the controversial delay regarding his choice of the Celtics was related to his article for The Players’ Tribune, writes D.J. Bean of CSNNE. Hayward explained that he was on the phone with his agent, Mark Bartelstein, when the story broke that he was coming to Boston. “At that point in time we decided, look, we have to step away from this,” Hayward said. “I was pretty upset that that had happened. I didn’t feel like I was ready to say, ‘Yes, I want to be a Boston Celtic,’ so I had to take a step back and regroup and I think we talked about it more and more, then finally we put out the article, but I know there was a lot of reports with people saying we were finishing up the article for the Tribune, which is just completely false.”
  • Jabari Bird‘s play during summer league has made him a candidate to receive one of Boston’s two-way contracts, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A 6’6″ shooting guard out of California, Bird was the 56th selection in this year’s draft. He has been given a larger role with some of the Celtics’ top players sidelined and has responded by averaging 13.7 points and shooting 19-of-27 in his last three games.
  • The versatility shown by second-rounder Semi Ojeleye could give him a role in Boston this season, Himmelsbach adds in the same piece. A 6’7″ forward out of SMU, Ojeleye shot 40% from 3-point range in Las Vegas and earned praise for his defense from coach Brad Stevens.

Celtics Officially Sign Gordon Hayward

JULY 14: Ten days after Hayward made his decision, he has formally signed his new maximum salary contract with the Celtics, the team confirmed today in a press release. Boston cleared the necessary cap room earlier today by waiving Jordan Mickey.gordonhayward vertical

JULY 4: Gordon Hayward has made it official. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Hayward has announced that he has decided to join the Celtics as a free agent. Hayward will receive a four-year maximum salary contract from Boston with a player option on the final year, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter links).

“After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics,” Hayward writes. “I know that will be tough to hear for Jazz fans — and I really want you all to know that you mean the world to me and my family. Over the past few days, I’ve been genuinely torn. And I know that this process isn’t easy on the fans, either. So I just want to be as straight-up as possible about why I’m coming to Boston.

“There were so many great things pulling me in that direction,” Hayward continued. “There was the winning culture of Boston, as a city — from the Sox, to the Pats, to the Bruins. There was the special history of the Celtics, as a franchise — from Russell, to Bird, to Pierce, and it goes on. There was the amazing potential of this current Celtics roster, as a team — from ownership, to the front office, to a talented roster with Isaiah, and Al, and everyone else. And of course, there was Coach [Brad] Stevens: Not just for the relationship that we’ve built off the court — but also for the one that we started building on the court, all of those years ago, in Indiana.”

It has been an eventful day for Hayward, as a report from Chris Haynes of ESPN indicating that Hayward planned to sign with the Celtics was shot down by other outlets, with Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein issuing a statement confirming that his client hadn’t finalized his decision. However, Haynes’ scoop proved accurate, with Hayward formally announcing his new team a few hours later.

By joining the Celtics, Hayward will be in line for a four-year contract worth $127,829,970, though he may end up not opting into that fourth year. By that point, he’ll have 10 years of NBA experience, which would put him in line for a new max deal worth 35% of the cap instead of his current 30%. That potential desire to opt out after year three reduced the importance of Utah’s ability to offer a fifth year.

Before they finalize the signing of Hayward, the Celtics will have to make a series of salary cap moves to create the necessary cap room for his lucrative new deal. In addition to renouncing their free agents, the C’s figure to pull Kelly Olynyk‘s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson are candidates to be waived, and Boston will likely have to make at least one trade — Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, and Jae Crowder are among the candidates to be moved. Teams are already engaging the Celtics on possible deals, tweets Chris Mannix of The Vertical.

By adding Hayward, the Celtics made a big free agent splash for the second straight summer, having signed Al Horford a year ago. The team wasn’t able to land a second star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George via trade, but the reigning No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference has added an All-Star forward in Hayward and the No. 3 overall pick in Jayson Tatum, and still has a collection of future draft picks at its disposal, setting the franchise up very well for the future.

Hayward’s move to the Eastern Conference also comes at a time when most of the league’s stars who are changing teams are heading west. Butler is now in Minnesota, George is headed to Oklahoma City, and Paul Millsap will land in Denver. The talent drain in the East should give Hayward a clearer path to a spot in the NBA Finals, though Boston will still have to overcome LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

As for the other two teams involved in the Hayward sweepstakes, the Jazz are hit the hardest, having lost both Hayward and George Hill today. The team was able to add a replacement for Hill by acquiring Ricky Rubio last week, but replacing Hayward’s production will be much more difficult.

Still, now that they no longer need to accommodate a max deal for Hayward, the Jazz have some options. According to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), Utah has scheduled a meeting with Wizards RFA Otto Porter. However, Utah currently doesn’t have the cap space for a max offer for Porter, and moving contracts to open up that room would be risky, since the Wizards could match any offer.

Meanwhile, the Heat have a chunk of available cap room that they can now use on other players as well. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that Bartelstein, who also reps Miami free agent forward James Johnson, is “working on something” for Johnson and will talk with Pat Riley tonight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: George, Patterson, Gobert

Make no mistake, Oklahoma City’s one mission this season is to convince Paul George to remain with the Thunder once he hits free agency next summer. But what, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman asks, does the All-Star forward want?

George and his representation have been nothing if not forthright about the 27-year-old’s desire to sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 but he still has a season under contract and a fresh, new change of scenery to enjoy with the Thunder until that time comes.

If George truly wants to play for a winner, the Thunder have a legitimate chance of positioning themselves as the better option than the Lakers, Horne writes. Oklahoma City has, after all, been competitive for the past five years while the Lakers have toiled in mediocrity.

The question is whether playing for a winner will ever actually trump George’s desire to return to his home state.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The move to sign Patrick Patterson will help the Thunder on the defensive end, the forward’s former coach Kevin McHale told The Oklahoman. He says Patterson is the type of player that excels at all the little parts of the game.
  • With Gordon Hayward on his way to the Celtics, it’s become clear that Rudy Gobert may have been the leader of the Jazz all along, Brad Rock of The Deseret News writes. The big man has long been more charismatic and vocal than his Beantown-bound counterpart.
  • The move that sent Avery Bradley from the Celtics to the Pistons has all but extinguished any hopes the Jazz had of pulling off a sign-and-trade connected to Gordon Hayward’s move to Boston, Jody Genessey of The Deseret News writes.
  • The Timberwolves saw an opportunity and seized it this offseason, bringing Jeff Teague into the fold at the expense of long-time point guard Ricky Rubio. “Ricky did a good job here; we’re happy for him,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the media, including Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “We wish him well. He made a number of contributions to our team, our organization and community and we certainly appreciate that. For us where we are now, we have to get out of this hole and we felt we had an opportunity to improve our team, and that’s why we did what we did.”
  • An additional benefit the Timberwolves will enjoy after bringing Jimmy Butler aboard will be his contributions as a recruiter, Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago writes.
  • No team in the NBA shot worse when wide open beyond the arc than the Thunder did last season, that should change after the club welcomes Paul George and Patrick Patterson to its lineup, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes.

Jazz, Celtics Discuss Hayward Sign-And-Trade

JULY 7, 8:29am: As of Thursday night, sign-and-trade talks between the Celtics and Jazz had been “dormant” for most of the day, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Boston continues to explore other trade options involving Crowder, Smart, and/or Bradley.

JULY 6, 3:28pm: The Celtics and Jazz appear to be getting closer to a sign-and-trade agreement that would involve Crowder, says Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. According to Murphy, any deal is expected to be more than just Hayward for Crowder, since the Celtics would want something else in return, but details on assets aren’t currently known.

JULY 5, 11:14pm: Hayward and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, will help facilitate a sign-and-trade, according to Jones. When asked about the possibility of making the swap, GM Dennis Lindsey said that the team “would never comment on any trade speculation.”

8:31pm: The Celtics and Jazz have engaged in discussions on a trade that involves sending Hayward to Boston via sign-and-trade in exchange for Crowder, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com tweets.

7:39pm: The Jazz are open to working out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Celtics which would send Gordon Hayward to Boston, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune. Jones adds that Utah is only willing to accept a deal as long as Hayward signs off on it.

The small forward agreed to a max deal with the Celtics on Tuesday, though the team currently does not have the cap space to make that lucrative of an offer. Boston is looking to deal either Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley in order to make room for Hayward.

The Celtics most likely could garner significant value in a trade for any of the aforementioned players. While it’s possible that the team sends one of the three to Utah in a sign-and-trade for Hayward, such a move would be peculiar since it could likely fetch more in a trade with another club. Jones adds via Twitter that Boston may agree to such a move if Hayward told them it was a condition for him to sign with the club.

Free Agent Rumors: Celtics, Heat, Cavs, Wolves

Having landed Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have shifted their focus to adding a rim-protecting big man, and are showing interest in several free agents who fit that bill, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Currently, the Celtics could only offer the $4.3MM room exception, but if they clear more than the minimum space necessary for Hayward’s deal, they could potentially make a bigger offer.

Speaking of Hayward, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News talked at length with agent Mark Bartelstein about how and why his client’s free agency announcement turned into such a mess on Tuesday. As Genessy details, via Bartelstein, Hayward went back and forth between the Jazz and Celtics before making his final decision.

Here are more free agency updates from around the NBA:

  • Having reached a deal with Dion Waiters, the Heat have interest in bringing back James Johnson and Luke Babbitt as well, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Bartelstein, who is also Johnson’s agent, will talk to Pat Riley tonight, according to Jackson.
  • While Richard Jefferson, who is under contract for 2017/18, plans to return to the Cavaliers, James Jones may not, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Agent Joel Bell says that neither the Cavs nor Jones have made any decisions, but a source tells Vardon that Jones – who is a free agent – won’t be back in Cleveland next season.
  • The Timberwolves have touched base with veteran free agent Vince Carter, but there’s nothing “concrete” happening with him for now, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • The Mavericks are considering adding German power forward Maxi Kleber, per Sportando (Twitter link). Kleber expects to continue playing for Bayern Munich if he doesn’t make the jump to the NBA.

Where The Gordon Hayward Situation Stands

We still don’t have official word from Gordon Hayward‘s camp on where he’ll sign, but it has been an eventful day on the Hayward front.

After a report from Chris Haynes of ESPN – which was confirmed by several other reputable journalists – indicated that Hayward planned to sign with the Celtics, subsequent reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and others suggested it wasn’t a done deal after all.

Mark Bartelstein, Hayward’s agent, issued a statement confirming that his client hadn’t finalized his decision. While Bartelstein said they’d expect to announce a decision today, he added that, in the wake of this afternoon’s drama, “We’ve got to kind of regroup here a bit.” Meanwhile, Jazz president Steve Sparks issued a statement that read, in part, “We trust Gordon and his agent that no decision has been made.”

Although Hayward is not ready to confirm reports on his free agent destination yet, it sounds like the Heat may be out of the mix. Wojnarowski reported this afternoon on ESPN that Hayward eliminated the Heat from consideration on Monday night (Twitter links via Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald).

Bartelstein has not addressed that report, and a source tells Anthony Chiang of The Palm Beach Post (Twitter link) that the Heat haven’t been formally informed that they’re out of the running. However, Jackson tweets that a Hayward associate told him this morning that Miami was a long shot.

If the Heat are out, that would narrow the group of finalists for Hayward to the Celtics and the Jazz, with Boston seemingly holding the major edge based on today’s initial reports. It’s possible that details are still being sorted out in regard to Hayward’s contract and the Celtics’ cap situation, since Boston currently doesn’t have room to accommodate their reported maximum salary offer for the star forward.

Still, while the Celtics look like the heavy favorite, the Jazz appear to be holding on to hope. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News (Twitter link) acknowledges that Hayward was leaning toward the Celtics, but has been told by multiple sources that the 27-year-old “never fully made up his mind.”

Meanwhile, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, who heard earlier from a source that Hayward has “changed his mind four times in the last four days,” confirmed this afternoon (via Twitter) that neither the Celtics nor the Jazz were informed of Hayward’s decision in an official capacity today.

As we continue to wait for resolution, here’s our chronological roundup of today’s earlier Hayward updates.

Gordon Hayward Decision on Hold?

May 6, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports2:34pm: Hayward has changed his mind four times since Saturday, a source tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Agents are speculating to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that a sign-and-trade or possibly a separate Celtics deal is holding up a formal announcement (Twitter link).

2:25pm: Boston’s offer is $127.8MM over four years, with a player option likely after the third season, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.

2:05pm: The leak regarding Hayward’s decision may lead to a delay in his announcement, Himmelsbach tweets, with Bartelstein suggesting the situation may not be resolved today. “That was the goal,” he said, “but now we’ve got to kind of regroup here a bit.” 

Jazz president Steve Starks has tweeted a statement that reads, “We trust Gordon and his agent that no decision has been made. Good communication all day and a great relationship.”

1:50pm: The Celtics haven’t heard from Hayward yet, but they aren’t denying the report from ESPN, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Sources are telling Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that the move is a formality and the teams just need to be notified (Twitter link).

1:40pm: Conflicting information is beginning to filter out concerning Gordon Hayward. David Aldridge of TNT claims Hayward has not reached a decision and is still weighing his options (Twitter link). Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, says the same thing to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. “Gordon hasn’t made a decision yet,” Bartelstein said. “We are still working through it.” (Twitter link).

1:19pm: Gordon Hayward will announce today that he’s signing with the Celtics, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com.

The All-Star forward, who spent his first seven NBA seasons in Utah, was considered the top prize left on the free agent market. The Celtics, Jazz and Heat all held meetings with him over the past three days. The move will reunite him with Brad Stevens, his college coach at Butler.

Boston’s belief that it had a shot at Hayward affected its decision to be conservative in its pursuit of Jimmy Butler and Paul George, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

With about $27MM in cap space, the Celtics don’t have quite enough cap room to sign Hayward to a full max deal. Hayward could agree to accept a little bit less, or the Celtics could try to move some salary before the moratorium ends on Thursday. One path, Blakely tweets, is to pull their qualifying offer for Kelly Olynyk, renounce all their free agents, waive Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson and trade away one other contract.

Hayward, 27, is coming off his best season, setting careers highs with 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He gives the Celtics another dangerous shooter who can stretch defenses and share the scoring load with Isaiah Thomas.

Free Agent Rumors: Rose, Hayward, Randolph, Bogut

Free agent point guard Derrick Rose wants to play for the Bucks, a source close to Rose told Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times (Twitter link). Milwaukee will have to shed salary to make it happen. The team is over the salary cap and can only offer the $8.4MM mid-level exception unless it moves a big contract or two. Rose met with the Bucks on Monday.  The Knicks are interested in bringing back Rose but it’s possible that New York could do a sign-and-trade with the Bucks.

In other free agent developments:

  • Gordon Hayward will “sleep on” it before deciding which team he’ll sign with, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. The highly-coveted Jazz small forward met with Utah for 3 1/2 hours on Monday after meeting with the Heat on Saturday and the Celtics on Sunday.
  • The Kings don’t have much hope of signing veteran power forward Zach Randolph, sources informed Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The Cavaliers have a strong interest in Randolph, though he may have to leave money on the table to play for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
  • Andrew Bogut and his agent will talk to more than 10 teams as he seeks to come back from a fractured tibia, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reports. Bogut suffered the injury in his Cavaliers debut on March 6. He did not require surgery and Bogut shed his cast a few weeks ago, Aschburner continues. The veteran center expects to begin full basketball workouts within the next three weeks, Aschburner adds.

Free Agent Rumors: Durant, Hill, Rockets, Hayward

Kevin Durant would have give the Warriors an even bigger discount to help them land Kings free agent Rudy Gay if Andre Iguodala had not agreed to re-sign, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. Durant agreed to a two-year, $53MM contract on Monday with a starting salary of $25MM. Iguodala agreed to a three-year, $48MM contract to remain with Golden State. Amick’s tweet gives insight into the type of money it will take to land Gay despite the Achilles tear he suffered last season.

In other free agent developments:

  • The Nuggets are still pursuing free agent point guard George Hill and trying to clear cap to make that happen, Amick tweets. Denver already made a big splash by reaching an agreement with power forward Paul Millsap on a three-year, $90MM contract. The Lakers are in serious discussions with Hill on a one-year deal but Los Angeles is also considering another free agent point guard, Rajon Rondo, according to Amick (Twitter link).
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey plans to hold onto his remaining non-guaranteed contracts and $3.3MM bi-annual exception, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Morey might add a player on a minimum contract, Feigen adds.
  • The Jazz’s meeting with Gordon Hayward on Monday lasted 3 1/2 hours and included newly-acquired point guard Ricky Rubio, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Hayward held meetings with the Heat and Celtics the previous two days and is expected to make a decision within the next two days.

Free Agency Rumors: Reed, Hayward, Jazz, Hawks

Veteran big man Willie Reed, who spent the 2016/17 season with the Heat, is flying somewhat under the radar in free agency, but he has no shortage of suitors. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, having already reported that Reed was drawing interest from Miami, Philadelphia, Indiana, and Houston, has added the Hawks to the list of the teams interested in the unrestricted free agent. For his part, Reed says he want to prove he’s “worth every penny” he gets, no matter where he lands.

“I feel like I’ve gotten better every single year and my goal for next season is to win the Most Improved Player Award,” Reed said. “I have really high expectations for myself next year. With more minutes, I think I can be the Most Improved Player in the NBA. I want to be an elite shot-blocker and make a big impact. I think it’s just a matter of getting more minutes and experience.”

Here’s more on free agency from around the league:

  • Although reports last week suggested that Gordon Hayward wanted the Jazz to re-sign George Hill, Hayward also told the team he’d love to play with Ricky Rubio, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Utah is sitting down with Hayward today, and Rubio is part of the team’s contingent in that meeting, according to Shelburne, who says Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles are also in attendance.
  • If the Jazz are able to bring back Hayward, they won’t be done trying to upgrade their roster, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah would, at the very least, still have some form of the mid-level exception available in that scenario.
  • Many teams around the NBA appearing to be waiting for resolution on the Hayward situation before moving forward on lower-tier free agents, and the Hawks are among that group, says Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The Timberwolves pursued Paul Millsap before he committed to Denver, and there was “lots of communication” between Millsap and the Wolves, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. However, according to Wolfson, the two sides never really came close due to Minnesota’ lack of cap room.
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