Hayward opts for Boston reunion
we had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA ... as far as I’m concerned, all of these years later, we still have it. We want to win a championship,” Hayward wrote.
Hayward leaves a loaded Western Conference to join a Boston team that was the No 1 seed in last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.
He was finally an All-Star for the first time last season, averaging career bests of 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Hayward’s post capped a strange day, after it was widely reported earlier that he picked the Celtics — a decision immediately shot down by his agent Mark Bartelstein, who told AP and many other outlets that Hayward was still going over his options.
Several hours later, it was done. And it was Boston.
“This has been the toughest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life,” Hayward wrote.
“This weekend has probably been the longest of my life. And today ... well, today has definitely been one of the craziest days of my life. But I wanted to make sure that I got this right.”
He becomes the third prominent free agent in three years to announce his plans on July 4, Indpendence Day in the US.
LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland for San Antonio on that date in 2015, and Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State on the holiday in 2016.
Hayward opted out of his contract and became a free agent late last month, a move that was expected.
Utah could have been in position to offer Hayward the so-called supermax deal — a five-year extension worth just over $200 million — if he was selected to an All-NBA team after the season, but his vote total fell well short of making that list.
Other than Golden State stars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Hayward may have been the top free agent on the market this summer.
He clearly leaves Utah with the fondest of memories, going back to his start with coach Jerry Sloan.
“I was literally the last Jazz player left who played under coach Sloan — and I always took that as a lot more than just some piece of trivia,” Hayward wrote.
“That was something that truly made me feel like a part of the fabric of this franchise. That’s something that has meant a lot to me ever since.”
Utah has been a team on the rise, but with the West still absolutely loaded — Golden State winning two titles in the last three years, Houston acquiring All-Star point guard Chris Paul in an effort to move up and challenge the champs, and Oklahoma City getting Paul George to pair with MVP Russell Westbrook — the best chance for Hayward to make an NBA Finals may be trying to get there from Boston.
Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will be reunited with his former Butler University star Gordon Hayward in the NBA after free agent Hayward announced on Tuesday he is leaving the Utah Jazz after seven seasons to sign a four-year deal with the Celtics, reportedly worth $128 million.