Gordon Hayward to sign four-year, $120 million deal with Hornets

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 11/21/20

The Boston Celtics can officially kiss Gordon Hayward goodbye. 

Hayward has signed a four-year, $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news comes after Hayward declined his $34.2 million player option with the Celtics for the 2020-21 season. 

According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, there might be more moving parts to this deal than many believe. Smith points out that Charlotte has to either work a sign-and-trade with Boston, trade away $7.5 million elsewhere or waive Nicolas Batum to clear some cap space.

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Gordon Hayward declines player option with Celtics, enters free agency

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 11/19/20

It appears $34 million wasn’t enough for Gordon Hayward to remain with the Boston Celtics on his current contract. 

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Thursday that Hayward opted out of his deal and will enter free agency. Marc Stein of the New York Times linked the one-time All-Star with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the Atlanta Hawks could pursue the 30-year-old. 

Hayward spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz before putting pen to paper on a four-year, $128 million agreement with the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2017. He suffered a gruesome leg injury less than six minutes into his Boston tenure, however, and still hasn’t yet reclaimed his All-Star form. 

Despite that, Hayward enters free agency coming off his best season as a member of the Celtics. He averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 38.3% from three-point range and 50% from the field in 52 games during the pandemic-altered campaign. 

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The Most Interesting Team in the NBA Not Located in Oakland? It Might Be Boston

Written by Matt Zemek at The Comeback

Here we are on a Monday morning after a very eventful NBA weekend, one which witnessed the end of the Golden State Warriors’ bid to match and then pass the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest regular season winning streak in league history.

The NBA and basketball lovers everywhere (except the cities where the Warriors played of late) wanted the Warriors to be unbeaten heading into their Christmas Day showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The delicious scenario — the unbeaten reigning champs going against the most iconic active player in the league in a Finals rematch — would have created a genuine sensation on Christmas in Oakland. There is no doubt that the Warriors are the NBA’s most interesting team, and that the Cavs and Spurs are the Dubs’ foremost challengers.

After that trio of heavyweights, however, which is the next most interesting team in professional basketball right now? The Oklahoma City Thunder are always a natural choice, with Russ and KD and a first-year head coach trying to figure it all out. The Los Angeles Clippers remain a soap-operatic rollercoaster ride with an expressive coach who doubles as the organization’s general manager. The Charlotte Hornets have become one of the big (and pleasant) surprises of the new season with their unexpected transformation into a highly potent and watchable offensive team.

Yet, with the past weekend in mind, the next most interesting team in the NBA outside of Oakland just might be the team which didn’t beat the Warriors on Friday night… but contributed to Golden State’s eventual downfall in Milwaukee… and then proved something very important on the same Saturday night when another team took down the Warriors.

That team is, of course, the Boston Celtics.

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Celtics Contract Extension Candidates

Written by Ryan Nolan at The Sports Quotient

Throughout the year, people always anticipate the upcoming offseason, and then the following offseason. Fans love to fantasize about what their team can do because anyone with $30 million in cap space has a shot at LeBron James or Kevin Durant. However, realistically, they are going nowhere unless something drastically changes.

One way for the Boston Celtics to prepare for the upcoming offseason is to analyze their own free agents. There are six players set to hit the free agent market, including two team options on forward Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko. Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger are about to hit restricted free agency, meaning they can receive offers but the Celtics can match any offer. The highest paid Celtic, forward David Lee, has an expiring $15 million salary this season and will be an unrestricted free agent along with fan favorite Evan Turner.

With almost $50 million in cap room next year, Danny Ainge will have quite the resources to resign his own, attract a high profile free agent, or trade for a star.

As one of the biggest steals from Ainge’s trades (aside from Brooklyn’s picks), Tyler Zeller will look to get paid after an impressive 2015 season.

After rejecting an extension prior to the October 31st deadline, Zeller still wants to sign on this summer, but only at the right price. After seeing John Henson sign long term with the Milwaukee Bucks, Zeller’s next contract could resemble the 4 years/ $44 million that Henson signed. Both boasted similar numbers last season with Zeller averaging 10 PPG and 5 RPG and Henson averaging 7 PPG and 5 RPG.

One of the most interesting aspects of the two team options for Johnson and Jerebko is that they are both non-guaranteed. The Celtics have a couple options. First, they could trade them to a team seeking salary cap relief and receive picks as compensation. Second, they can decline both options totaling $17 million in cap space, or they can pick up the options and have both play-out their contracts in a one year deal.

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The Surprising Offensive Value of Avery Bradley

Written by Will Kelley at The Sports Quotient

Some can call it a hot streak, but I want to point out the truth…Avery Bradley is really good. Some may believe his ability is limited to defending, but Bradley is quickly proving why he is much more than just a stingy defender.

Coming into this season, there was much uncertainty surrounding the Celtics. People knew the Celtics had the defense as well as the role players to take the next step, but many wondered how they would be able to compete on the offensive side of the ball after ranking 18th in offensive rating last year. Over the summer, Avery Bradley made a point of improving his shooting to become a dangerous asset alongside the penetration of fellow guards Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Evan Turner.

The practice is looking like it paid off as Bradley is off to a career start, which might be due to some advice from the shot doctor. So far this year, Bradley is scoring 15.5 points per game, shooting 46% from the field and 41% from three point range. This is quite the improvement from last year when he scored 13.9 points per game while shooting 42% from the field and 35% from three point range.

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Luck of the Stevens: Boston Rebuild Ahead of Schedule

Written by Daniel Coughlin at The Lottery Mafia

“I’d rather be lucky than good.” I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase at least once in your life. The recent re-emergence of the Boston Celtics as playoff contender under head coach Brad Stevens has to make their fan base feel a bit lucky, but how much of it really is luck or outstanding coaching?

The Good, Now Gone

The Celtics are a storied franchise with a proud tradition, but like all good teams – and even dynasties – time waits for no one. The former giants of the NBA that reigned on opposite coasts of America used to feature lineups of living legends and future hall of famers. Now, the Celtics are a team full of role players.

It hasn’t been all that long since the Celtics were a dominant team. Just a few seasons have passed since Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined under the coaching of Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau to dominate the Eastern Conference and win a championship.

That time has passed. Kevin Garnett, once a generational talent, is gracefully departing from the league in the great white north of Minnesota, where it all began for him. Paul Pierce has played for three different teams not named the Celtics in as many years, currently reunited with Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers. Ray Allen is currently not in the NBA.

Even a wrung below their champions, players like Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, the shelf is bare. The good of the old Boston, the most recent championship-winning Boston, is simply a memory.

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5 Startling Facts One Month Into the Season

Written by Matt Zemek at Bloguin

It’s only one month. It’s only one month.

It feels like The Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy says over and over again, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…”

Say something often enough, with sufficient belief, and the world you long for might appear.

In the 2015-2016 NBA season, can various teams convince themselves that after one month, the world will change in the ways they want? Will the pleasant surprises be able to keep the feel-good carpet ride intact?

Every NBA team played its first game by the time October 28 came to an end. On the morning of November 28, where do we stand?

Here are five facts which might not rate as startling to seasoned NBA observers, but should certainly create a lot of rethinking about the nature of this particular season:

5 – In the East, 10 of the top 11 teams allow under 100 points per game.

If the new season forces teams to quickly develop a rhythm on offense, it doesn’t place fewer demands on defense, which is just as intricate an art. Sure, the Chicago Bulls stand out as a team well above the .500 mark which nevertheless lacks knockdown shooters and does not possess a full complement of offensive talent. Noticeable flaws exist on that roster, especially in relationship to offense and shotmaking. Given that playing the Bulls (which averaged under 100 points a game entering play on Nov. 28) will help one’s defensive averages, one shouldn’t expect a cartload of East teams to allow triple-figure point totals per night. However, 10 of 11? All under 100 at the defensive end?

Brad Stevens’s Celtics are under 100? The offense-first Hawks? The work-in-progress Knicks? That rates as an eye-grabber if not an eye-popper, even though… “It’s only one month. It’s only one month.”

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How the Boston Celtics Dodged a Draft Night Bullet

Written by Sean Woodley at Bloguin

You could have defended Charlotte Hornets general manager Rich Cho’s decisison to trade Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson for Nic Batum before the 2015 Draft. The move was widely panned, but you could at least understand Cho’s thinking: in Batum, he was getting a well-rounded swing man who, paired with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, could have formed one of the top wing duos in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe Batum could have helped Charlotte keep its playoff drought brief, and alleviate the sting of trading away a talented lottery pick like Vonleh. Obviously, things haven’t worked exactly according to plan on that front. Kidd-Gilchrist is likely lost for the season, and Batum – a pending free agent – has seen his offensive struggles carry over from last season, shooting just 36.5 percent from the field during a 2-4 Hornets start. The trade hasn’t worked, but for a team desperately trying to win, there was at least some logic behind it – and it could still have some fruit to bear.

That can’t be said however, for Cho and owner Michael Jordan’s highly publicized draft night gaffe. As was reported in the weeks following the draft, the Hornets passed on trading their 9th-overall pick to the Celtics in exchange for a bounty of draft picks which included four first-rounders. The move would have allowed Boston to snag Justise Winslow before the Heat eventually nabbed him at pick ten. Grantland’s Zach Lowe detailed the offer in his July 28 column:

In the days before the draft, Charlotte peddled that no. 9 pick and Vonleh to some of the teams ahead of it — an attempt to vault into star range. The Hornets found no takers before ultimately giving up and sending Vonleh to Portland for Nicolas Batum the day before the draft. As the drama unfolded the next night, Boston put Charlotte on the other end of a quantity-for-quality pitch. The Celtics offered four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks.

Instead of jumping at that grandfather offer, the Hornets went ahead and selected Frank Kaminsky, adding him to a crowded frontcourt that already featured Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams and Spencer Hawes; Tyler Hansbrough was thrown into the mix in free agency as well.

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