Gordon Hayward

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Simmons, Carroll

The Raptors have four players on non-guaranteed deals effectively auditioning for the final two guaranteed slots on their roster, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Given the number of veterans the team lost over the offseason, the individuals who end up in the 14th and 15th spots on the squad could actually see meaningful minutes in 2017/18.

Among those battling for one of the final openings on the lone Canadian team’s roster is Canadian national team forward Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer didn’t make much of an impact on the playoff-bound Rockets last season but serves as a potent deep ball threat, not unlike outgoing Raptors forward Patrick Patterson.

Wiltjer will face stiff competition making the Raptors, especially from the versatile K.J. McDaniels who failed to stick with the Nets last season but has otherwise shown promise as an incredibly versatile, Swiss army knife of a forward.

Also vying for the final two spots will be Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie, the latter of whom Lewenberg mentions along with McDaniels to be the ones to watch as training camp begins and the Raptors inch closer to finalizing their roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Embiid, Celtics

A pair of Knicks bigs have turned heads at EuroBasket 2017 and that bodes well for the future of the franchise. Between Kristaps Porzingis‘ offensive showcase with Latvia and Willy Hernangomez‘s dominance in the post with Spain, New York fans ought to be drooling with anticipation, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Squashing any concerns about a knee bruise that kept Porzingis out of some exhibition games with his national team, the 7’3″ Knicks forward has flaunted his length, range and just about everything else that’s made him such a tantalizing, unique NBA package. Through two games so far, Porzingis has averaged 22.5 points per game.

Hernangomez may not have pumped out any similarly viral highlight reel plays through his first two games in the tournament but the 23-year-old has stepped up as a foundational component of his Spanish team. The 18 points and nine boards he dropped in 20 minutes during the club’s opener is reminiscent of his impressive string of performances for the Knicks in the second half of 2016/17.

Even Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Berman writes, has looked impressive through three EuroBasket games averaging 16.0 points per match.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers need to figure out the best way to handle Joel Embiid‘s contract extension – our very own Dana Garauder wrote about it here – but one thing that can’t be overlooked when weighing injury risks and production is the impact that Embiid has on the Sixers brand. “He’s got the public on his side,” a league source told Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. “[The idea of alienating or losing Embiid altogether] is a public relations nightmare.
  • Between Gordon Hayward leaving money on the table in Utah and Kyrie Irving leaving a team that made three straight Finals appearances, the newest Celtics made big sacrifices to be where they are now. “They were doing what I thought was fair game and very grateful that both of them chose to come here and make those sacrifices,Danny Ainge told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England.

Lowe’s Latest: Celtics, Irving, Hayward, Butler

In our recap earlier today of where things stand on the Kyrie Irving front, we passed along several items of interest from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who identified a number of potential trade partners for the Cavaliers if their deal with the Celtics falls through. Lowe also cited sources who said that there’s at least a slight chance Isaiah Thomas could miss the entire 2017/18 season if his recovery doesn’t progress as smoothly as hoped.

Lowe’s in-depth piece on the Irving situation included a few more noteworthy details, which we’ll pass along here:

  • Timing played a major part in the Celtics‘ decision to go hard after Irving, rather than Paul George or Jimmy Butler. As Lowe notes, the team wanted to add two star players this summer, but wanted to make sure it could land Gordon Hayward in free agency before giving up key assets for that second star. Because the Bulls and Pacers agreed in June to trade their stars, they were no longer options for Boston, post-Hayward.
  • Irving’s age was also a key consideration for the Celtics, says Lowe. With Boston poised to build around young pieces like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the fact that Irving is two years younger than either George or Butler was important, and allows the C’s to extend their window of contention.
  • The Celtics also had some concerns about how Butler and Hayward might mesh – on and off the court – if they were to acquire both players, sources tell Lowe.
  • Even if the Celtics have to include a little more in the Irving deal to get it done, they still may be the most well-stocked team in the league in terms of trade assets, according to Lowe, who notes that could become important if the Pelicans eventually make Anthony Davis available. There’s no indication at this point that New Orleans will do so, but the Celtics’ eyes “are very much trained on” Davis, says Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, if Irving officially becomes a Celtic, he could play a part in helping to recruit an additional superstar, since the league’s stars respect Irving’s “ballsy showman’s game.” Celtics president Danny Ainge likes Irving more than many of his peers around the NBA for some of the same reasons, Lowe adds.

Ex-Cavs GM Suggests Celtics On Irving’s List

In an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Monday (h/t to CSNNE.com), former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin suggested that the Celtics are on Kyrie Irving’s short list of preferred destinations.

Griffin mentioned Brad Stevens and Gregg Popovich as “really good coaching situations” that Irving covets, as well as Irving’s desire to play with “Gordon Hayward in Boston” or “Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio.”

The Spurs had previously been reported as a team on Irving’s list, but this is the first the public is hearing about the Celtics as a desired destination for the disgruntled point guard. Aside from the Spurs, the Knicks, Heat, and Timberwolves were reported by Chris Haynes as Irving’s top choices for landing spots.

While the Celtics certainly have the assets to land Irving, with a trove of draft picks and Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and other desirable players, Danny Ainge has been reluctant to part with these assets in trades for Paul George and Jimmy Butler, which led to the pair being traded elsewhere for far less than the Celtics could have offered.

Furthermore, if the Celtics were to strike a deal for Irving, he and Isaiah Thomas would make for an awkward fit starting in the backcourt, and a particularly troublesome pairing for Boston on defense, with neither point guard known for his defensive prowess. Irving also has reportedly wanted to be the lead guy on his next team, but Thomas is – and would likely continue to be – the Celtics’ franchise player. More likely, in the improbable event that the teams make a trade involving Irving, Thomas would have to head the other way.

Heat Notes: Hayward, Irving, Olynyk

Gordon Hayward was extremely inspired during his free agency meeting with the Heat, passes along Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In fact, the small forward was so pumped that he felt about ready to put on a Miami uniform:

After the video, he [Pat Riley] kind of talked a little bit,” Hayward said. “And that was the moment where you kind of do get some chills. And everyone’s wearing their ring, too, everybody on the staff was. And so that’s the moment where you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ an I-want-to-put-on-the-jersey-right-now type feeling.

Hayward went on, “Miami was the spot that the more and more we talked about it, the more and more it looked like this would be a really, really good fit for me. And we actually broke it down and had like a point system of different pros and cons and on a weighted scale of different things that each city would represent and each team would represent, and Miami was always near the top of the rankings when we did it.”

Hayward was also struck by “this family vibe that they have.”  The now Celtics forward also said about the Heat pitch, “Mark [agent Mark Bartlestein] had tried to tell me, after you talk with him, you’re going to be like, ‘Mark, I’m ready to sign right now.’ You do get that vibe from him. He’s a great motivator. And we watched some videos, too, of the Heat and their tradition. He definitely makes you feel like you’re going to be competing for championships year in and year out.

Here’s more from the Miami Heat:

  • The Heat do not have considerable optimism about being able to land Kyrie Irving in a trade, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Tim Reynolds, who covers the NBA for the Associated Press, said that he does not believe that the Heat are even interested in acquiring Irving. Regardless, Jackson says that the Heat’s best chance to get Irving in a trade is if suitors with more appealing assets cannot strike a deal and the Cavs circle back to Miami.
  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that the Heat have completed more trades, six, with the Cavaliers than any other team. Winderman details this rich trading history, which suggests that an Irving deal should not be viewed as impossible.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman argues that the Heat owe it to themselves to consider trading for Irving. As Winderman puts it, the Heat should consider breaking up a good team to put together a great team. The scribe also points out that Irving’s list of preferred destinations purposefully includes teams with respected coaches and front offices.
  • Eric Pincus tweets that Kelly Olynyk‘s deal includes a 5% trade kicker that cannot be used in excess of $2MM.


Gordon Hayward Talks Free Agency Decision

Gordon Hayward narrowed his choices down to the Jazz, Celtics, and Heat before deciding to come to Boston. He joined ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod to discuss some of the factors that went into his decision. Here are the highlights from the interview:

On Miami’s recruiting pitch: 

I think the text I sent to [agent] Mark [Bartelstein] was, ‘Wow, that’s going to be really tough to beat.’ … I asked [my wife] Robyn, and she said something like she could see herself living there and that would be a really great place for us to be. ‘I really liked such and such of the wives and I could have a good relationship with them.’ It was all positive stuff. It was something where it was like ‘OK, now let’s try to just put that aside and go into Boston with a clean slate.’

On the Ricky Rubio trade:

It kind of was a difficult situation because I don’t want to be somebody that says, ‘You go get this player and I’m 100 percent in. If you trade for so and so, you get rid of this guy, you go get him.’ … I didn’t want to make demands because I didn’t know if I was going to end up there. It wasn’t a sure thing. I had told them I wanted to check out these other teams, and that being said, they asked me, ‘How do you feel about these guys?’ and I would tell them and Ricky was a guy that was high on my list.

On his relationship with Brad Stevens:

It’s been seven years since he coached me [at Butler], and immediately, though, he called me July 1, and after that phone call I thought like this isn’t going to be any different. With him, it was one of those things where he made me feel like even if I don’t go to Boston, it’ll be fine and we’ll still have that great relationship and he’ll still be in my corner and he’ll still be rooting for me and supporting me. So I got that feeling, too. We didn’t have a driver. He’s the one that picked me up and the one that drove me to the hotel and we got lost a couple times on the way. All those thoughts were put to bed.

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.

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