The Boston Celtics got their man this summer — they signed Gordon Hayward as a free agent. Didn’t cost them one of their trade assets.
The Celtics are on the verge of adding a new All-Star to play with him in Kyrie Irving, if and when that trade involving Isaiah Thomas finally goes through. Boston is banking on those two All-Stars, along with Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and more quality role players, will be the future in the East.
But why are the Celtics willing to throw in their unprotected 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick for Irving and not for the other big names available this summer, Jimmy Butler and Paul George? Why not go after both of them (which would mean no Hayward)? Zach Lowe of ESPN delved into that.
The ‘why not Butler and George?’ questions are dicier. Timing played a part. Boston wanted two All-Star-level building blocks. They feared flipping their golden trade chip for the first one, whiffing on the second, and ending up having squandered their best asset to build a team that wasn’t appreciably better than their previous iteration of LeBron roadkill.
They preferred signing the first one — Hayward — in free agency, and then jumping headlong into the trade market. They may well have Paul George now had the Pacers waited another 10 days, but Boston was concerned George would leave for the Lakers in a year. Irving’s deal runs one season longer, and he has already relayed an enthusiasm for playing in Boston.
The Celtics had some concerns over how Hayward and Butler would mesh, both on the court and as personalities, sources say.”
The Celtics have concerns about how Butler and Hayward would get along but not Irving and Hayward? Does Hayward hate country music that much?
I get the concerns about going all in for George, he has just one year left on his deal and an eye on Los Angeles next summer. Maybe the Celtics could win him over and convince him to stay, but how much are they willing to risk in a trade on that bet. Consider this about the 538th time someone around the league — from executives to media — wondered why the Pacers pulled the cord on the OKC deal and not have waited out the market a little.
But Butler… I’d rather have him than Hayward. And he’s got two years left on his deal.
Still, while we can second guess Danny Ainge (and we will), he has his team set up to be a threat to Cleveland this year and take over the top spot in the East in two years. He is doing something right.