We had to it wait out a little bit on July 4, but we finally have our answer. Gordon Hayward is heading east to become a member of the Boston Celtics.
In an article released on Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune, Hayward announced his decision in a letter titled “Thank You, Utah”.
In the letter, Hayward directly acknowledged just how hard of a decision it was to make and how circuitous Tuesday’s events were as the entire NBA world waited on him to make his decision.
The letter is exquisitely written, and Hayward went on for some time about the Jazz organization personally listing all the people who affected him there. It’s really quite touching.
In the end, and Hayward pointed to wanting to settle some unfinished business with Brad Stevens at his side. Specifically, Hayward said he wants to win an NBA championship with his former Butler coach.
Via The Players’ Tribune:
And now I’ve decided to sign with the Boston Celtics.
There were so many great things pulling me in that direction. There was the winning culture of Boston, as a city — from the Sox, to the Pats, to the Bruins. There was the special history of the Celtics, as a franchise — from Russell, to Bird, to Pierce, and it goes on. There was the amazing potential of this current Celtics roster, as a team — from ownership, to the front office, to a talented roster with Isaiah, and Al, and everyone else. And of course, there was Coach Stevens: Not just for the relationship that we’ve built off the court — but also for the one that we started building on the court, all of those years ago, in Indiana.
And 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’s deal with the Celtics is a four-year, $128 million max deal with the Celtics. The contract reportedly includes a player option in the fourth year for Hayward.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Celtics still have a series of deals to get done before they will be able to sign Hayward to his deal.
The Celtics would have to pull the qualifying offer on Kelly Olynyk, renounce free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young, Gerald Green and waive the contracts of Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson (or trade). The Celtics would be left with $27.6M in room and likely need to move the contract of Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart. Trading Rozier would have the Celtics short $1M of a max salary a lot.
After Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Paul Millsap all went west, we now finally have our first big star going east. Tonight is a major bummer for Utah Jazz fans — and for Miami Heat fans — but Hayward heading to the No. 1 seed in last years Eastern Conference playoffs should have Celtics fans thrilled.