One possibility: A sign-and-trade with the Jazz.
The Utah Jazz are willing to engage in talks on a Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics, league sources told the Tribune on Wednesday evening, on one condition: Hayward, who committed to signing with the Celtics on Tuesday, would have to agree and get the ball rolling.
Hayward can’t earn more in a sign-and-trade than he could signing outright with Boston. His max is $127,829,970 over four years either way.
Fans often fantasize about a departing player demanding a sign-and-trade as a parting gift to his old team. It never happens. Why would Hayward weaken the team for which he’ll be playing the next three-plus years?
Not only would Hayward have to work against his self-interest to force a sign-and-trade, he’d have to do so emphatically to get the Celtics to go along. Hayward might have some lingering loyalty toward the Jazz. Danny Ainge doesn’t. Even if Hayward tried to engineer a sign-and-trade, good luck getting the Celtics president on board.
If it wants Crowder, Bradley or Smart, Utah will almost certainly have to offer more than all 28 other teams.
But there is a narrow window for a logical sign-and-trade, as pointed out by Ryan Bernardoni of Celtics Hub.
Boston renouncing all its free agents, waiving unguaranteed Jordan Mickey, convincing Guerschon Yabusele to remain overseas another year and trading Terry Rozier and Demetrius Jackson for no return wouldn’t create enough cap room to sign Hayward to a max salary. But if they take those first steps and include Rozier and Jackson in a sign-and-trade, the Celtics could receive Hayward on a max salary.
The difference: The sign-and-trade would allow Boston to go from 10 players and two cap holds to nine players and three cap holds. Dumping Rozier and Jackson then signing Hayward would mean fitting him in with eight players and four cap holds. That single cap hold makes the difference in paying the full max.
Now, perhaps Ainge prefers to keep Rozier and whatever return he gets for Smart, Crowder or Bradley. But maybe the Jazz would send an asset to get Rozier, even with the expense of also taking Jackson. And maybe the sign-and-trade threat could improve offers for Smart, Crowder and Bradley. I’d think just having 29 teams bidding against each other would be enough, but this wouldn’t hurt.