Gordon Hayward‘s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is sticking with his story: Hayward was still undecided Tuesday when news broke that he’d sign with the Celtics then only made up his mind on Boston later in the day.
In a fantastic account of the saga relayed by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, Bartelstein answers one big question: If Hayward were undecided Tuesday afternoon, how did he write such a lengthy Players Tribune article in such a short period of time? Bartelstein said Hayward previously wrote three versions of the article – one for the Celtics, one for the Jazz and one for the Heat – as a “cathartic” part of the process.
Bartelstein didn’t address my big question, though: If Hayward truly hadn’t made up his mind, why would incorrect reports cause Hayward to, as Bartelstein put it, “re-evaluate everything”?
At least Bartelstein went in depth on plenty. Via Genessy:
“Always through this process the Jazz were the leader in the clubhouse because of the incredible integrity and class that Dennis, Quin and the Miller family showed,” Bartelstein said. “The way they handled everything throughout Gordon’s career has been exemplary. It’s a wonderful place with a great, young team so leaving there was going to be really difficult.”
Hayward’s camp whittled the candidates down to three and set up visits in Miami on Saturday, Boston on Sunday and with Utah in San Diego on Monday.
After every stop, a new leader in the clubhouse emerged.
Hayward’s trip to Miami was “an unbelievable visit,” the agent said. After spending time with Riley, Spoelstra and crew, Hayward told Bartelstein, “I can 100 percent see myself being here.”
Boston surpassed Miami the following day after Hayward and his wife, Robyn, got the chance to spend time with Stevens, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
“I think this is the spot,” Hayward told his agent during a phone call from the plane Sunday night. “I think this is the right place for me.”
The Jazz were back in the lead after the meeting ended.
“Everything that you would want to touch on to make someone feel that they’d never want to leave is exactly what they did,” Bartelstein said. “And it worked.”
After the Jazz contingent left, Hayward had a two-hour conversation with his rep.
“How do I leave here? How can I leave this?” Hayward asked Bartelstein. “He was very emotional. He was tortured.”
The agent said Hayward continued to be “twisted and turned” until clarity finally came late Tuesday afternoon.
“He had to make a decision that was in his best interest, and it broke his heart,” Bartelstein said. “But he had to make the decision (for him). He had three incredible choices and that’s what made it so hard. There was no no-brainer.”
I recommend reading the full article for a detailed account of Bartelstein’s version of Hayward’s story. Bartelstein, accurate or spinning, is trying to paint his client as still caring and respectful toward Utah.
But it’s too late for that. It’s easy to read some resentment from the Jazz, and their fans aren’t even feigning hiding it. Hayward has become a villain in Utah.
This account of his exit isn’t helping. It just digs the knife deeper. Tying hope to Hayward forcing the Celtics into a sign-and-trade that helps the Jazz at Boston’s expense just furthers the problem.
Nationally, Bartelstein isn’t helping his client, either. Hayward comes across meek and too easily swayed.
Hayward made a tough, bold, forward-thinking choice. The Celtics appear best for his future, which is more important than rewarding Utah for what it did for him in the past.
He should own that and move on.