COMMENTARY | As the Boston Celtics slip and slide back and forth in the standings between the lottery and the playoffs, the NBA trade/rumor season has hit full swing.
Noted Celtics fan and ESPN personality Bill Simmons recently speculated that Boston will try to acquire Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward by the trade deadline or via free agency. A move like that would require some creative thinking with the Celtics void of young talent the Jazz would be interested in taking back via trade.
Utah has made the former Butler product the focal point of its offense this season. To his credit, Hayward has responded by posting career-best averages in points, rebounds, assists, minutes and steals. Prying him away from the Jazz will not be an easy task and could prove costly for Boston, which would certainly have to offer a first-round pick to Utah to even begin discussions.
The Celtics have interest in Hayward because he is a low-key personality with the talent to eventually make an All-Star team in the eyes of many general managers. His connection to coach Brad Stevens from their Butler days also makes this an intriguing match for Boston. Stevens, although admittedly biased, raves about Hayward and vice versa. As a result, the Celtics could have the inside track on luring Hayward to Boston in the summer.
The problem with that thinking is Hayward will be a restricted free agent come July. Utah will most assuredly tender him a qualifying offer, giving it the right to match anything he receives from another team. As long as the contract isn't Kobe Bryant-like, Utah should be willing to match anything he receives on the open market and retain the promising swingman.
That is why the Celtics might be trying to trade for him as opposed to waiting until the summer. They would much rather be in the driver seat trying to retain Hayward as one of their own than being put to the mercy of Utah's executives down the line.
Hayward's presence would be an upgrade over both Avery Bradley and the ever-disappointing Jeff Green. Bradley is also a restricted free agent who Boston has to make a decision on and he could be offered in a deal for Hayward. It's unclear if the Jazz would be interested in such an offer with a draft pick attached, but it might be an ice-breaker.
One thing appears to be clear, the Celtics are open for business, especially if Gordon Hayward is involved.
Warren Shaw is a NBA contributor to Dime Magazine and co-host of the weekly basketball podcast "The Baseline". He has covered various sporting events live while also conducting one on one player interviews. His passion for basketball is seconded by boxing and his work can be found on shawsports.net.
Follow him on Twitter @ShawSportsNBA.
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