One NBA insider isn't sure Gordon Hayward can handle Boston.

Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports

NBA insider: Gordon Hayward may not be able to handle Boston

Ty Anderson
June 19, 2017 - 1:59 am

The Celtics are making moves, and if C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has his say come July, there’s more to come in the Celtics’ attempted power-shifting of the Eastern Conference.

After (almost officially now) moving the No. 1 overall pick to the Sixers, Ainge’s offseason wishlist now appears to center around one of Jazz sharpshooter Gordon Hayward or Los Angeles big man Blake Griffin, both of whom are expected to hit the market as unrestricted free agents in just a few weeks.

Many have practically penned Hayward, who was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career this past season with the Jazz, into the Boston starting five next season, too. Connected to Celtics coach Brad Stevens from their time together at Butler, Hayward missed out on a super-max contract from the Jazz, as he was not named to an All-NBA team, and whispers within the basketball world have pointed towards Hayward having an interest in leaving Utah, be it for Boston or even Miami.

But ESPN’s Jeff Goodman thinks it would best suit many to calm down on that front for now.

“I don’t know if they can get a guy like [Gordon Hayward],” Goodman told WEEI’s Bradford & Giardi on Sunday. “Everybody thinks ‘Well, if Gordon Hayward played for Brad Stevens, he’s gotta come here.’ Look, Gordon Hayward is a different dude. He was a loner at Butler. He’s a good kid, but does he fit in Utah? His personality actually does fit in Utah probably better than it does in Boston, and the Jazz aren’t that much further away than the Celtics from going to the Finals.”

It doesn’t take much to explain the C’s reported interest in Hayward. Forget his familiar with Stevens. It was in his seventh season with the Jazz that Hayward set career-highs in points (21.9) and rebounds (5.9) per game, while also shooting his best field goal percentage (47.1) in any season in which he’s averaged at least 10 shots per game (he averaged a career-high 15.8 attempts last year).

But a deal outside of Utah would also come with a significant decrease in Hayward’s overall income, too, as a max deal with the Jazz totals $177.5 million over five years, while a max deal elsewhere can only (boy do I feel stupid saying that) pay Hayward $131.6 million over four seasons.

“He’d be giving up money on table to come to Boston,” Goodman acknowledged.

But there’s also the possibility or perhaps the likelihood that Hayward, an Indiana native and career-long member of the Jazz, is not necessarily a fit for a major media market like Boston.

“Maybe he would [give up money]. Maybe he respects Brad enough, and he’s grown certainly as a kid that he can handle Boston,” Goodman said. “I’ve seen a lot of athletes get eaten up in Boston, and I’m not sure Gordon Hayward can handle Boston. I worry about that.”

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