The Boston Celtics may technically be in position to still make a playoff run this year, but don’t let the standings fool you – this is very much a team in transition and will remain the focus of NBA trade rumors until the deadline.
The C’s are only 14-26 on the season heading into the weekend, but in the horrendous Eastern Conference, the team is still in very much in the hunt for a postseason berth, sitting only a few games out of the final playoff spot. Boston is surely thinking beyond this year, though. With no players over the age of 33 on the current roster, the franchise is clearly in the midst of a youth movement and trying to build a team that can compete in the conference in the future.
Don’t look now, but the Celtics might even be looking to add another young star to their team.
File this one in the ‘speculation’ column for now, but Grantland’s Bill Simmons believes Boston wants to add Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward to their roster. Further, the idea that the Celtics could be intrigued is even more believable considering that coach Brad Stevens also coached Hayward in college at Butler.
Hayward, if you’ve not been paying attention, has had a banner season. After three solid years in Utah, he is having the best season of his career. The fourth-year player is averaging career-highs in points (17.1), rebounds (5.4), and assists (4.9). Even his 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per contest are personal bests and at only 23, Hayward looks like he’ll have a long career in the league.
If Simmons is correct, it’s easy to see why they’d want him. However, with the way he’s played, more teams than not would be glad to have him aboard. One of the downsides to his season is that his shooting has been down. Actually, it’s been down every year he’s been in the league. His 42 percent accuracy from the field isn’t ideal (and his 32 percent shooting from three-point range is even more discouraging), but Hayward has still shown plenty as an offensive player to make himself desirable – particularly because he’s just so young.
Boston, though, will probably have a hard time prying him away from Utah. The Jazz drafted Hayward and now that he’s blossomed into a star will want a handsome compensation package in return. The Celtics have plenty of young players they can offer up, but trading two or three of them away could just set the franchise back. Boston could try to add draft picks as well, but dealing those away isn’t all that wise for rebuilding teams.
Plus, look at it from Utah’s vantage point. Draft picks are no certain thing and they’d be trading a legitimate star away in the hopes of landing someone as good as him in a potential deal. Simply put, the deal would have to be immensely attractive for the Jazz to even think about answering the phone. The name of the game is to acquire talent and if Utah is going to let go of arguably their best player, they’re going to want an extraordinary amount back in return.
Hayward to the Celtics is an intriguing idea, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.