Hayward signs 4-year, max deal
BOSTON» Brad Stevens was just a week or so into his new job as Butler head coach when Gordon Hayward was his first recruit to visit.
A decade later, they’ve been reunited with the Boston Celtics.
There was an “immediate familiarity” when the Celtics pitched Hayward on the team, he said in a conference call with reporters Friday after signing his fouryear deal worth about $128 million. “It brought back memories of when I was being recruited in high school by Coach Brad. This time it’s at the next level.”
Ten days after announcing that he had accepted the Celtics’ offer and agreed to leave Utah, Hayward officially joined a team that earned the No. 1 seed in the East last season and reached the conference finals.
One of the most coveted free agents of the offseason, the Celtics lured Hayward from the Jazz with a max contract and the chance to rejoin his college coach. At Butler, Stevens and Hayward were together for the first of the Bulldogs’ backto-back NCAA championship game appearances in 2010.
“It’s really an unbelievable thing to be sitting with a guy in your office when he’s 16 or 17 years old, and to again be sitting with him when he’s 27,” Stevens said.
The Celtics needed to clear salary cap space to make room for Hayward, which they accomplished by trading guard Avery Bradley to Detroit and then waiving forward Jordan Mickey early Friday. “It’s been a long 10 days, hasn’t it?” Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge said.
Stevens said his pitch to Hayward, an all-star last season for the Jazz who averaged 21.9 points, was more about the future than the past.
“I talked about why this transition was so great for me and my family, and also how hard it was to initially make the transition,” Stevens said. “I tried to keep it much more focused on the now than our relationship 10 years ago.”
It’s the second straight summer the Celtics have landed a big free agent: Last year, they brought in Al Horford (and made a pitch to Kevin Durant, as well). That helped them reach the Eastern Conference finals, where they were eliminated by Cleveland in five games.
The Celtics also had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, which they traded for the third pick — Duke forward Jayson Tatum — and another first-rounder, likely next year.
“I feel like our team is in a better position than last year,” Ainge said.
Bulls claim Nwaba.
CHICAGO» Chicago claimed guard David Nwaba off waivers.
The move on Friday comes two days after he was waived by the Lakers. Los Angeles did that to create salary-cap room for guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, whose signing hasn’t been officially announced.
The Bulls also signed former LSU guard Antonio Blakeney to a two-way contract. He went undrafted after averaging 17.2 points and earning all-SEC secondteam honors last season.
Two-way contracts are new to the NBA for the upcoming season. They allow a player to spend up to 45 days on an NBA roster while also playing in the G League.
Mills promoted to replace Jackson. NEW YORK»
The Knicks promoted Steve Mills from general manager to president and hired Scott Perry as general manager.
Mills takes over the position left vacant by Phil Jackson’s departure last month.
Nuggets win in summer league. LAS VEGAS»
Monte Morris scored 17 points to lead the Nuggets to a 96-91 victory over New Orleans.