It has been a while since I last posted about my beloved Celtics. A lot of things have transpired, and it seems Danny Ainge was content getting his guy in Jaysum Tatum from Duke.
While Tatum has some fantastic upside and could be a cornerstone player in the future, my focus has been solely on my favorite player currently in the NBA, and his continued vexation with the state of his current team, the Indiana Pacers. In fact, it has been such a problem for George that he informed the team of his decision to test free agency and potentially go to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers once he becomes a free agent in 2018, leaving the Pacers desperate to get something in return for their superstar before he leaves them for nothing.
One of the few teams that has continually been rumored to be interested in the superstar forward are our beloved Celtics. The most recent report suggests that Boston’s current offer, without any security George might sign long term with the team, is: Jae Crowder, the Los Angeles first rounder next year, either the Clippers/Memphis first rounders in 2019, and cash considerations.
Of course with any assurance of even a minor extension, say 3 years, the Celtics could, and should, be willing to part with either Avery Bradley or the 2018 Nets Pick, especially if they are also able to acquire one of the most talented (and underrated) shooting guards to hit free agency in recent memory in Paul George.
Anyways, before I can even describe how amazing this would be for the Celtics, here is how I see free agency playing out:
Gordon Hayward is set to meet with three teams when free agency begins, and I think only 1 of them is a serious threat to sign him aside from the Celtics. That team would be the Utah Jazz. But here are three reason why I believe the Celtics will be the defining team in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes:
First, there is Brad Stevens. The current coach of one of the most powerful teams in the Eastern Conference is looking for a second star to pair with Isaiah Thomas in order to make some serious noise against the Cavaliers. What better situation for Hayward than joining forces with his old coach and becoming a Celtics legend in the process? This would also intrigue Paul George to maybe sign some kind of extension with the Celtics should he get traded there.
Second, the fanbase. Al Horford stated that the love that Boston has for their athletes and their teams is one of the defining reasons he chose Boston over other teams, and he’s not wrong there. If you work hard, perform well, and bring pride to Boston, fans will build statues of you. It’s a fact.
And finally, the chance to fight for a championship. Rudy Gobert will do his best to sell Hayward on the idea of keeping their dynamic duo in Utah, but the Celtics and Heat have not only a winning culture to offer, but a promise of fighting for a championship in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics also have the upper hand against both of the other two competing teams when it comes to a supporting cast, especially if they can get Hayward without having to give up anything in the process.
So, between the Jazz and the Celtics, where does Hayward end up?
Prediction: Boston because of his relationship with Brad Stevens, and all the different things I mentioned above.
And now for the debate: Does the addition of Hayward, which could domino PG13 to Boston, put the Celtics over the Cavaliers?
The answer, in my opinion, is absolutely yes.
Even if the Celtics had to give up Avery Bradley in this trade, the acquisition of two of the best forwards in the game, especially George who can hold his own against LeBron James, would simply be too much for the Cavaliers who have been going to the Finals for the last 3 consecutive years. At some point, one has to wonder just how physically draining it is for players to fight their way to three straight finals. A victory against LeBron’s team also would more than likely squander any idea of Paul George leaving for the Lakers, meaning that the Celtics dynasty could be competing against the Warriors super-team for the rest of this decade, and maybe even more.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are fantastic players, don’t get me wrong. But a lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, a rebounding specialist, and Al Horford would be too much to handle. This especially if the Celtics were able to keep a combination of Jaylen Brown/Jayson Tatum and/or Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. This would also, hopefully, mean that the bench would probably have numerous talented veterans willing to overlook a big payday for a chance to compete for a championship (David West type players).
Danny Ainge’s rebuild would look fantastic, the additions of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum could set the Celtics up for the future, and the Celtics could end LeBron’s reign of terror in the East.
But it all starts with Hayward.