Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports

Celtics make Gordon Hayward signing official

Ty Anderson
July 14, 2017 - 2:09 pm

It’s official: Gordon Hayward is a Boston Celtic.

Although Hayward announced that he was joining the Celtics back on the Fourth of July, the C’s needed to go through a slew of paperwork and other moves over a 10-day process -- which included renouncing the rights to several free agents, moving Avery Bradley to the Pistons for Marcus Morris, and waiving Jordan Mickey as the final cap-clearing move late last night -- before they could make the signing official.

Before all those salary cap headaches, Celtics president Danny Ainge described the process as ‘pins and needles’ and noted that he was concerned when ESPN’s initial report that Hayward was joining the Celtics was aggressively and immediately shot down by Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein.

And despite being rumored to be an overblown factor, it was Hayward’s relationship with Brad Stevens, who coached him during their time together at Butler, that ultimately gave the Celtics an edge over both the Heat and Jazz in their talks with Hayward.

“My feelings were it could be a benefit, it could hurt us, too, with the fact that they had such a strong bond years ago that you might not want to jeopardize that with the stress and pressures of a completely different circumstance,” Ainge said of Stevens’ influence in meetings. “I know that Brad is a big part of why we’re able to be in the home of Al Horford, Kevin Durant, and Gordon Hayward over the last two seasons.”

The meeting with Stevens -- even seven years later -- apparently blew Hayward away, too, as Stevens pointed out his fit within the C's attack.

With Hayward, Ainge believes that the Celtics are more versatile, and that Hayward fits with what the Celtics are looking to accomplish next season and beyond.

“He can handle the ball. He can play off the ball. He can defend multiple positions,” Ainge said of Hayward, who he views as a player that can play the 1-through-5. “He’s a hard-nosed and very unselfish player that is capable of taking over stretches of games.”

The deal is expected to be for the max that the Celtics could have offered the 27-year-old Hayward, at four years and worth $128 million.

“I think that expectations come with high salaries in sports traditionally, and I think there’s lot of people that are still living in that world. I think that when you are able to acquire players without having to give up assets, you’re certainly willing to pay them more money,” Ainge said of Hayward’s deal. “We feel very fortunate to have acquired Al Horford and Gordon Hayward with money, and an opportunity to win and play as opposed to having to give up multiple draft picks and potential young stars.”

Ainge said that he will continue to search for improvements now that Hayward, who averaged a career-best 21.9 points per game last season, is officially on their books.

And that he’s more than aware of what’s now expected of his club.

“I like high expectations,” Ainge admitted with a grin.

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