Joining the Celtics is the opportunity of a lifetime for Gordon Hayward


Boston Celtics. This year, we beat Gordon Hayward’s career options to death while salivating over the idea of drafting Markelle Fultz first overall.

Many have stated that it’s difficult to imagine Hayward walking away from Utah. They have a great coach and a competitive roster with players that could hit their prime when the Warriors dynasty begins to decline. Gordon Hayward has the opportunity to be the cornerstone player of a contending team, so why would he leave?

Well, didn’t we have similar conversations about Al Horford and Kevin Durant last year, when the Celtics pursued two players who had spent the first eight years of their career with the same team? (Can you believe getting the worse of the two still got them to the conference finals?) The loyalty narrative is compelling, but its allure comes from the fact that most players don’t spend their entire career in one city. It’s a feel-good narrative that’s fun to chase because we often don’t get to see the story end the way we want it to. We all want our favorite franchise to have a Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki story, but what we often get is Paul Pierce.

My next point contradicts my first one a little, but you can’t talk about Hayward to Boston rumors without pointing out his connection to Brad Stevens. You have probably have heard a thousand times over that Hayward played under Coach Stevens at Butler for two years before being drafted to the NBA, but what you may not know is how that connection was established. On Bill Simmons’ podcast, Mark Titus shared a story about how Brad Stevens reached out to a scrawny Hayward before any other colleges tried to recruit him. Hayward soon became a six-foot-eight high school superstar who caught the attention of other schools, namely Purdue, where Hayward’s parents attended the games as season ticket holders. Still, Hayward went to Butler to play for the first coach who really believed in him. Stevens now has a shot to recruit Hayward again, this time with help from Danny Ainge, a BYU alum who can tell Hayward what he’d be missing out on if he passes up playing in Boston to stay in Utah

Hayward failed to make an all-NBA team this year, leaving him ineligible for the notorious supermax contract.

Again, for emphasis: Utah can’t offer their cornerstone player more money because the media didn’t vote him onto any all-NBA team lists, leaving them more vulnerable to losing him in free agency. Seriously. It’s a terrible system, but it could be the deciding factor in turning a good Celtics team into a great one (not to imply that making the conference finals isn’t a great accomplishment).

I won’t go so far as to assume I know what Gordon Hayward wants in life. Maybe he wants nothing more to be a one-team-for-life player like Dirk Nowitzki. Like the Celtics, Hayward has enough enticing options that it almost feels like too much of a good thing, but let’s be real - joining the Celtics is Hayward’s chance of a lifetime. It’s no guarantee that he propels the Celtics past Cleveland, but Boston is geared for the long haul, where they could be the team that benefits most from the eventual fall of the Golden State and Cleveland empires.

In other words, the existence of two current super teams shouldn’t cause players to shy away from setting themselves up for success. Come to Boston, Gordon.

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