According to reports, the Boston Celtics have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent small forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million deal. The contract cannot officially be signed until the end of the NBA’s moratorium period on July 6th.
Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the news Tuesday afternoon:
Free-agent Gordon Hayward plans to sign with the Boston Celtics, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 4, 2017
Some speculation arose later in the day as to whether or not Hayward had actually decided to sign with Boston:
Gordon Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein, tells ESPN: "Gordon hasn't made a decision yet. We are still working through it."
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 4, 2017
Another league source says Boston hasn't heard yet directly from Hayward. Again: doesn't mean he cant pick Cs later; he just hasn't yet.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2017
Finally, Hayward confirmed the agreement himself via a letter in the Players’ Tribune Tuesday evening:
Thank You, Utah. https://t.co/ICfocNeZfW
— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) July 4, 2017
Shams Charania of The Vertical then reported the terms of Hayward’s deal just minutes after Hayward tweeted out his letter:
Free agent Gordon Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $128M deal with the Boston Celtics, league source tells The Vertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 4, 2017
Gordon Hayward Agrees to Four-Year Contract With Boston Celtics
Hayward’s contract with the Celtics will take him through the 2020-21 season. He has a player option for the fourth year, meaning that if he so chooses, Hayward can opt out and become a free agent again in the 2020 off-season.
Hayward had an exceptional 2016-17 season with the Utah Jazz, averaging career-highs of 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds, along with 3.5 assists per game. Hayward missed nine games all season, playing in 73 – his lowest total since 2012-13. He led Utah past the Los Angeles Clippers in a seven-game first-round series. The Jazz moved on to face the Golden State Warriors in the second round, where they were swept 4-0.
Looking forward, Hayward will provide elite scoring and excellent defense as a starter on the wing for Boston. The Celtics will need Hayward to remain healthy and continue to improve in order to get past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. With Hayward on board, Boston should now be viewed as a legitimate championship contender.
Hayward is now reunited with his old college coach, Brad Stevens. Together, the two led Butler to its first ever National Championship appearance in 2010, falling just seconds short of defeating Duke in the title game.
The Miami Heat and Utah Jazz also heavily recruited Hayward, both with different appeals. Miami was able to offer an unmatchable lifestyle in South Beach and promise of a featured scoring roll in the offense. On the other hand, Utah was the place where Hayward’s NBA career took off. They traded for Ricky Rubio and kept Joe Ingles, two moves that were made to persuade Hayward to stay. Ultimately, Boston’s championship pedigree, talented roster, and familiar head coach was enough to convince Hayward that Boston was his next destination.
For the Jazz, a young core was finally beginning to develop. Alongside Rudy Gobert, Hayward led Utah to 49 wins and a playoff series victory last season after years of rebuilding. With Hayward now gone, the Jazz will look to re-construct the roster once again. This is a major step in the wrong direction for an exciting, young team that was beginning to emerge.
The 27-year-old Hayward is going into his eighth NBA season. He has played his whole career with the Jazz until this point. Utah selected Hayward ninth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.
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NEW YORK, USA – JANUARY 03 : Gordon Hayward of Utah Jazz in action during NBA game between Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz at Barclays Center in New York City, United States on January 03, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)