Hay­ward signs 4-year, max deal

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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