Hayward, Stevens reunite in Boston
Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens were a couple of inches away from winning an NCAA championship together at Butler.
They are now reuniting to try for an NBA title.
The top remaining free agent in this summer’s class is off the board, with Hayward announcing Tuesday night with an essay on The Players’ Tribune site that he will sign with the Boston Celtics — coached by Stevens — and leave the Utah Jazz after seven seasons.
Also on Tuesday, the Sacramento Kings added veteran help to their young roster by agreeing to free-agent contracts with forward Zach Randolph and point guard George Hill.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations said Hayward agreed to a fouryear contract with the Celtics, the last of those years being a player option, with a total value of around $128 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press
on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed before the league’s moratorium ends Thursday.
It was a decision Hayward said he agonized over, and he said he was impressed by the pitches — albeit unsuccessful ones — that Miami and Utah made for him over the past few days. But his ties to Stevens, and the memories of how close they were to a title, seemed to weigh heavily on his mind throughout the process.
Butler went to the NCAA championship game in backto-back seasons under Stevens in 2010 and 2011, losing to Duke and Connecticut. In the 2010 game, Hayward’s desperation shot to win the title from midcourt narrowly missed as time expired and Duke won 61-59.
From there, Hayward went to the NBA. Not long afterward, Stevens followed.
“That unfinished business 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: And that’s 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 also shot 47 percent, a significant jump over what he managed in the previous four seasons.
Utah has been a team on the rise, but with the West still loaded the best chance for Hayward to make an NBA Finals may be trying to get there from the East.
Randolph left Memphis for a $24 million, two-year deal to reunite with former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger in Sacramento, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be signed until Thursday.
Hill announced on Twitter that he was coming to Sacramento. Yahoo Sports first reported the deal, saying Hill would get $57 million over three years.
The Kings started free agency with just two players on the roster who are not on their rookie contracts —
guard Garrett Temple and center Kosta Koufos — and were seeking some proven players to provide stability. Sacramento went 30-52 last season, Joerger’s first year, and has not made the playoffs since 2006.
The Kings hope the additions of Randolph and Hill will change that.
After a rocky start to his career in Portland and New York, Randolph found himself in Memphis. He spent eight years with the Grizzlies, emerging as one of the central figures of the team’s “grit and grind” mantra.
He helped Memphis make the playoffs the past seven years, including a trip to the conference final in 2013 when Joerger was an assistant. Joerger took over as head coach the next year and had three years with Randolph, including a trip to the second round in 2015.
Randolph, who turns 36 later this month, averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season and is still considered one of the better post players in the game.
He is expected to be a
mentor for young big men such as Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles, one of the team’s three first-round picks last month.
It’s quite a reversal for Randolph, who was considered a malcontent in need of mentoring when he arrived in Memphis in 2009 after failed tenures in Portland, New York and with the Los Angeles Clippers. But he grew into a leadership role with the Grizzlies and became a trusted veteran.
Hill will be expected to provide similar traits in Sacramento, while grooming rookie point guards De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III. The 31-yearold has spent nine years in the NBA with San Antonio, Indiana and
He averaged a career-high 16.9 points per game last season for the Jazz, helping them make the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2010. He also averaged 4.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds. He played only 49 games in the regular season because of various injuries.