Celtics Must Clear Space To Complete Hayward Signing; Market Shrinking For Few Remaining Free Agents

Celtics Must Clear Space To Complete Hayward Signing; Market Shrinking For Few Remaining Free Agents

After much confusion on July 4th, the Boston Celtics have officially agreed to sign Gordon Hayward to a $128 million contract. In order to finalize the deal, the Celtics will now need to clear some significant cap-space to accommodate the incoming salary.

Boston have already released Kelly Olynyk to free agency and are now aggressively shopping Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. If the Celtics can’t find individual trades, the Utah Jazz have made it clear that they’re open to a sign-and-trade, but  it’s not clear which assets the Jazz would want in return.
According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the New York Knicks have already expressed interest in acquiring Marcus Smart from the Celtics. There have also been rumors circulating that the Celtics may try to acquire Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, Gasol is owed $22.6 million for the 2017-18 season, which would add even further complications the team’s existing cap-issues.
News of Haywards decision was leaked to the media early on Tuesday. Gordon Hayward then released an official statement in The Players Tribune titled “Thank You, Utah“. In it, Hayward says:

“My meetings with all three teams during this process — Miami, Boston and Utah — were just unbelievable. They couldn’t have been more impressive. Each meeting left me convinced that the team I’d just met with was the right fit. And even after I slept on it last night, while I was leaning heavily in one direction … I still wasn’t 100-percent convinced about what I wanted to do.

What’s crazy is — before I even had a chance to make my decision, before I had a chance to sit down and write this, and before I even had a chance to talk about it with the people I love — I was already reading reports about where I was going. And I guess that’s just the way things work, in 2017. But I’m sorry it had to work out like that.

This was a life-changing decision for me and my family, and something we took really seriously.”

Apparently, as late as Tuesday morning, Hayward was still unable to decide between Utah and Boston. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, later explained to ESPN that Hayward wrote three different version of The Players Tribune article before making his final decision.
Before this announcement, the Hayward was one of the few big-name players remaining unsigned this offseason. As of Thursday afternoon, the free agent talent pool now looks like this:
Point Guards:
  • Kyle Lowry (Toronto)
  • Jrue Holiday (New Orleans)
  • Jeff Teague (Minnesota)
  • Patty Mills (San Antonio)
  • George Hill (Sacramento)
  • Derrick Rose
Shooting Guards:
  • Dion Waiters (Miami)
  • JJ Redick (Philadelphia)
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Jonathan Simmons
Small Forwards:
  • Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  • Otto Porter (Brooklyn / Washington *)
  • Andre Iguodala (GSW)
  • Rudy Gay
  • Danilo Gallinari (LA Clippers)
[*Brooklyn offered Porter a substantial contract; however, since he’s a Restricted Free Agent, Washington can match that offer in order to retain him. At this point, it is unclear whether the Wizards will choose to do so or not.]
Power Forwards:
  • Blake Griffin (LA Clippers)
  • Paul Millsap  (Denver)
  • Taj Gibson (Minnesota)
  • Patrick Patterson (OKC)
  • Serge Ibaka (Toronto)
  • Luc Mbah a Moute
  • Zach Randolph (Sacramento)
  • Nene (Houston)
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Nerlens Noel
  • JaVale McGee

[Photo via Flickr User Michael Tipton]