A number of rumors have hit social media over the last couple of weeks, including possible deals to acquire Jahlil Okafor or Russell Westbrook, but not much has happened. In the case of Okafor, it now appears Ainge and the Philadelphia 76ers are just too far apart in trade talks and reports have the deal as all but dead.
Chris Roling of The Sports Daily has reported that Boston is still in search of a big name and Gordon Hayward of Utah is the latest target. The speculation makes sense as the former Butler star was coached by Celtics head man Brad Stevens.
The two still have a solid connection and it’s not the first time the Jazz forward has been linked in trade rumors with Stevens and the Celtics. The 26-year-old is one of the best duel-threat forwards in the league, but his days in Utah have been shrouded in losses and not much success since becoming a professional player, leading some to believe the Jazz could move their star player in efforts to gain more depth and draft picks, moves that could help the team rebuild a bit more quickly.
Hayward averaged nearly 20 points last year, but he is also solid in other areas as his five rebounds and 3.7 assists per game would attest. At 6’8″ he also gives the coaching staff some versatility as he can play shooting guard in place of his normal small forward position, creating miss-matches on opposing defenses, especially if Stevens wants to run the floor as expected next season.
As with any trade, gauging what is given up for what is taken in will play a big role, but for a franchise that must compete with the likes of Cleveland and Toronto in the Eastern Conference, adding another proven player will make it much easier to gain that home court advantage that plays such a big role in deciding championships.