Gordon Hayward’s Agent Denies Star Has Agreed to Celtics Contract

Utah Jazz guard/forward Gordon Hayward looks up as he walks on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Gordon Hayward has cashed in following the best season of his NBA career, reportedly agreeing to a deal with the Boston Celtics in free agency…maybe.

On Tuesday, Chris Haynes of ESPN reported Hayward plans on signing with Boston, while USA Today‘s Sam Amick confirmed the news. However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski received word from Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, that it’s not a done deal.

“Gordon hasn’t made a decision yet,” Bartelstein said. “We are still working through it.” When asked if Hayward will make his decision Tuesday, Bartelstein said, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, “That was the goal, but now we’ve got to kind of regroup here a bit.”     

“We trust Gordon and his agent that no decision has been made,” Jazz president Steve Starks said on Twitter. “Good communication all day and a great relationship.”

Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas and Ricky Rubio, who was traded to the Utah Jazz this offseason, were quick to react on Twitter with emojis: 

Hayward was a key piece of Utah’s ascension in the 2016-17 season. He set career highs in scoring (21.9 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg) and win shares (10.4), per Basketball Reference, as the franchise made its first playoff appearance since 2012 and won its first division title since 2007-08.

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At 27 years old, Hayward shows no signs of slowing his progress as an NBA star. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead offered this nugget about the All-Star forward:

“There’s no need to defend Hayward. In fact, this was his seventh year in the NBA, and he’s improved every season. This season, he set career highs in points, rebounds, field goal shooting and three-point shooting since becoming a full-time starter. How’s this for a leap: Hayward was 58th in PER last year; he shot up to 27th this season, the best of his career.”

After establishing himself as the face of one organization on the rise, Hayward proved to teams around the NBA he can take over games with his offensive prowess but is also skilled enough to get teammates involved in the action. 

Possibly losing Hayward leaves the Jazz with a huge void they may not be able to fill via free agency. He’d bring a unique skill set and consistently high level of performance to the Celtics as they look to make a run at an NBA title next season and into the future. 

If Hayward leaves Utah, the Celtics seem like a natural landing spot. He has a built-in relationship with Boston head coach Brad Stevens from their two seasons together at Butler from 2008 to 2010. 

The Celtics needed to add at least one more star player alongside Thomas if they want to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

Thomas was the only player on Boston’s roster last season who scored more than 1,000 total points. Hayward gives the Celtics another legitimate scoring threat, but he’s also a solid rebounder, distributor and defender. 

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge will be aggressive when he feels it’s in the team’s best interest to do so. He made the bold move of trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers and selected Jayson Tatum third overall in June 22’s NBA draft. 

Now, Ainge and Celtics ownership opened their wallets to bring Hayward into the mix to bring them one step closer to a championship…assuming, he did indeed make his decision. 

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