The Boston Celtics essentially let Gordon Hayward walk away to the Charlotte Hornets without getting anything in return for the former All-Star.
After Hayward expressed interest in going back to his roots to play for his hometown team in the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics were in a strong position where they could have made a deal with the Pacers that would have sent center Myles Turner and utility wing player Doug McDermott to Boston.
It’s been reported that Ainge rebuffed the proposed trade negotiation by countering with an offer that would have included Turner and either the prowess of T.J. Warren or Victor Oladipo, which the Pacers were not at all on board with.
In doing so, negotiations with the Pacers ultimately fell through for the Celtics, while Hayward surprisingly signed a four-year, $120 million contract to join the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night during free agency.
It’s clear that the asking price the Celtics had in mind for Hayward was too high, which has left Boston with receiving nothing in return for Hayward. Hayward signing with a team other than the Pacers was the worst-case scenario for the Celtics, as the return for them would be limited to nothing.
So rather than the Celtics receiving two players in Turner and McDermott who would have been likely contributors and fit nicely with this current team in Boston, the Celtics get absolutely nothing out of what could have been something to improve the team.
To make Hayward’s contract fit in the salary cap, all the Hornets had to do was waive and stretch forward Nicholas Batum’s $27 million contract over the next four years without having to do a sign and trade that would send a player or two to the Celtics.
It’s worth mentioning that the NBA’s stretch provision allows a team to spread cap ramifications of a contract through the duration of a few years. By doing this, Batum will count for $9,043,478 against the Hornets’ cap for the next four years.
The Boston Celtics wanted too much and waited too long
The waiting game that Boston played with Hayward and the Pacers allowed other teams throughout the league to sign more talented free agent players that would have improved the Celtics and added some much-needed depth to the team.
Moving forward, the Celtics are again going to have to rely on the young core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to continue ascending upwards. As well as placing some higher than expected expectations on both first-round-picked rookies Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard to produce early on.
The loss of Hayward does open up some potential space for Romeo Langford to shine more fluidly for the Celtics this season. However, Langford won’t be ready to start the season due to having wrist surgery in September and him still being in a cast despite putting up some shots recently in the gym.
That being said, rookie and fellow 14th overall draft pick Nesmith, will be in a prime position to take advantage of more potential playing time. He has been referred to as being one of the best shooters in the rookie draft class.
The Boston Celtics are going to have to come up with some unique ways to win games this year and it’s going to be on the shoulders of some of their younger talent on the team, including banking on the continued success of Tatum and Brown.