Gordon Hayward is now a Celtic, it took a minute and proved to be much more complicated than it needed to be but he’s Boston bound. Naturally with this move there are numerous questions abound on both sides. This is a move that absolutely puts Boston in a better position to usurp the Cleveland Cavaliers at the top of the East. But for Utah, a team that really came into their own last season, this is nothing short of a gut punch of which the effects may be felt for years to come. So much to break down so little time. Luckily for you I’m here to nerd this on up for you.
What does this mean for Boston?
We already know this is a move that strengthens the Celtics. Hayward gives them a second consistent scorer that will lighten the load of new teammate diminutive dynamo Isaiah “IT4” Thomas. Even better for the Cs they are getting Hayward in his prime. Last season Gordo posted career highs in scoring (21.9 PPG), rebounds (5.4 RPG), and all shooting stats (47-40-84). Also an adept passer he will fit in perfectly on a Boston team that stresses ball movement arguably more than any team in the league not based out of the Bay Area.
Hayward however represents another wing on a Boston squad full of em’. He joins Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Avery Bradley. Sure he’s the best out of all of them but this just signifies that Boston isn’t done moving. Rumors of a trade for Marc Gasol tells us as much. Their death lineup of Thomas – Bradley – Hayward – Browder – Horford is pretty damned formidable as it stands but they will need to do some tinkering to solidify a second unit that is a necessity in beating the Cavaliers when it counts.
That tinkering will come at a cost and for a team dealing with limited resources after this big acquisition (4 years at $127 million is headed Hayward’s way) it will be a pretty tall order to meticulously fill out this roster hence why Danny is hotly pursuing trades. Well that and it offers him a way to unload some of these wings to fill a need elsewhere (power forward and frontcourt bench depth). Currently $1.8 million over the cap the Cs will have both the $8.4 million mid-level and $3.2 million bi-annual exceptions to fill the few holes they have. Although they have signed the big domino in this year’s free agency class don’t look for them to slow down. You don’t go through the trouble of signing the best guy available to compete for a championship and ignore the other question marks. And knowing Danny Ainge this ain’t what’s happening here.
What does this mean for Utah?
Yeah this is a tough one. Losing your franchise player is never the way you want to be noticed during any free agency period. Hayward leaves a huge hole in the Jazz’s offense (take another look up top if you need to be reminded) and his varied skill set will not be easy to replace by any stretch. Even more concerning is the fit for anyone they do sign to plug this hole. Utah plays a very specific, not so exciting brand of ball. While this has made them attractive to veterans towards the end of their playing career (it’s worked out great for Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson) this is nothing to count on in this situation.
Luckily the Jazz’s management has rightfully garnered the reputation for being smart and savvy. Since this is the case the Utah has not left the lips of many when discussing projected playoff teams for the upcoming season. After trading for Ricky Rubio their most effective death lineup projects to be Rubio – Hood – Ingles – Johnson / Diaw – Gobert and this is before they make any moves to address Hayward’s departure. If they can make smart moves to fill needs I have no problem writing them into the playoffs.
Sometimes the best way to address an issue is to do it indirectly. The Jazz won’t get anyone of Hayward’s caliber this summer for two reasons: 1. There’s no one that good available and b. They don’t have the money to think about it. Sure, there was talk of them immediately pursuing Otto Porter but given his current situation Utah finds themselves priced out of him. They are currently about $10 million over the cap and with only about $8.4 million in non-guarantee contracts to shed (which is the value of the MLE afforded to them) they find themselves kinda cash strapped with a few holes to fill. But with the MLE and bi-annual available to them they can pursue a wing that will be a bit of a drop off (Tony Allen, Tyreke Evans, Thabo Sefolosha, etc) and once paired with the newly signed Joe Ingles they may be able to produce satisfactorily at this spot. No matter that they will need two heads to accomplish what one once did. Sure, what happened in Salt Lake City is a heartbreaker, but it is by no means a dealbreaker.