ESPN The Boston Celtics finally got their fireworks — on the Fourth of July, no less. Gordon Hayward, the prize of this summer’s free-agent class, announced Tuesday that he’s going to play for the Celtics, choosing their maximum-contract offer over those from the Utah Jazz, his team since 2010, and the Miami Heat. The 6-foot-8 small forward has agreed to a four-year, $128 million deal, according to sources. The deal also includes a player option for the final year, sources said, which would allow Hayward to return to free agency with 10 years of NBA service when he could pursue another big-money contract and command a starting salary at 35 percent of the salary cap. He shared his decision in an article on The Players’ Tribune titled “Thank You, Utah.”
I feel horrible for the Utah Jazz and their fans tonight, on the 4th of July, a night when Gordon Hayward turned his back on the Utah Jazz and signed with the Boston Celtics.
I mean what are the odds?
Gordon Hayward finishes a great season with an up and coming Jazz team, his contract is up, and all signs would point to him re-signing with the Utah Jazz and continuing towards a bright future as the focal point of their young core.
But in Boston, the Celtics are also a talented team, loaded with young assets, and being coached by Gordon Hayward’s college coach Brad Stevens. Gordon Hayward grew up a huge Purdue fan growing up in Indiana, and when Purdue had no interest in Gordon Hayward as a prospect it broke his heart, but who believed in him? Who offered Gordon Hayward a scholarship when nobody else did? That’s right. Brad Stevens. Together, Stevens and Hayward led Butler to the school’s first ever National Championship Game, coming within a Hayward halfcourt heave of upsetting Duke and winning the National Title.
So Gordon Hayward joins Brad Stevens in Boston, and leaves Salt Lake City high and dry, so you have to feel for Jazz fans tonight. The Jazz were a victim of circumstance, the one coach who believed in Gordon Hayward happened to have cap room across the country, and it likely cost the Jazz their future.