Posts Tagged ‘Brad Stevens’

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Gordon Hayward wants you to know that the decision to sign with the Boston Celtics was his and his alone.

The widespread narrative was that he wanted to reunite with former Butler head coach Brad Stevens. While the two are close, Hayward is adamant the bond between player and coach has been blown out of proportion, and may not have been the determining factor in him leaving the Utah Jazz in free agency.

“The relationship between Brad and I has been completely overstated and overhyped from everybody,” Hayward said during a recent appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Woj Pod.”

“And you mentioned it. There was always rumors about going to Boston, and those, to me, were always just rumors. I didn’t really ever think about it, because I wasn’t a free agent, wasn’t really concerned with the Boston thing. But everybody else was saying, ‘Oh, he’s going to go to Boston because of Brad.’ And we had a great relationship, but it wasn’t like we were constantly texting each other or calling each other. He’s the head coach of the Boston Celtics. He’s got things to worry about.

“I played for Brad for two years. And so it wasn’t like everybody kind of made it seem, like we were besties or something.”

In Hayward’s Players’ Tribune piece he penned to announce his decision to join the Celtics, the 27-year-old referred to Stevens as the one he “could count on the most,” and asserted the two have unfinished business together in the form of winning a championship, which they failed to do as Bulldogs.

The path of least resistance to that title comes in the Eastern Conference, and earning $128 million over four years to make a go of it isn’t bad either. Still, it’s hard to imagine Hayward choosing Boston if Stevens weren’t there, no matter how he wants to paint the picture.

 NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Gordon Hayward is officially bound for Beantown, with the Boston Celtics announcing Friday they signed the prized unrestricted free agent.

After spending the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward tested the open market for the first time this summer, meeting with his incumbent team in addition to the Celtics and Miami Heat.

In a saga documented by his agent, Mark Bartelstein, Hayward changed his mind multiple times before making the “gut-wrenching” choice to leave the only club he’s ever known for greener pastures in Boston.

Hayward personally announced the decision with a post on The Players’ Tribune, indicating he thinks he can win a title with the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals this past season. The Indiana native is also excited to reunite with Brad Stevens, who was his coach at Butler and currently mans the sidelines for the men in green.

The Jazz and Celtics reportedly discussed sign-and-trade options involving Hayward and small forward Jae Crowder, but Danny Ainge ultimately elected against compensating his new star’s former club.

Although nothing materialized on that front, Boston did need to clear cap space in order to pay Hayward the max, so the organization shipped off starting shooting guard Avery Bradley – who has one year and $8.8 million left on his contract – to the Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics rolled out the red carpet for the 27-year-old Hayward, enhancing their recruiting meeting with a video at Fenway Park and appearances from stars he’d join in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.

Hayward’s coming off his best season yet, as he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and a steal over 73 games. He also earned his first All-Star nod and led the Jazz to the West semifinals.

In Boston, he’ll round out a talented Big Three and boost the club’s chances of taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers, who eliminated the Celtics in five games in the East finals.