Jan 8, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) controls the ball against San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes (11) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Should the San Antonio Spurs look into adding Gordon Hayward?
The NBA rumor mill is reaching a crescendo as we approach the NBA Draft and free agency shortly afterward. One player whose name is popping up more and more frequently is that of the Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. Should the San Antonio Spurs be paying attention?
Hayward has a $34 million dollar player option to decide on this offseason. And according to Ryen Russillo, he’s looking to leave Boston soon. But given the financial uncertainty facing teams as we approach the start of the season, he could be stuck with the C’s for one more season. That is unless the Celtics can find someone to trade him to.
If the Celtics do find themselves in a position where they’re looking to move Hayward they’ll have limited options. Rebuilding teams with cap space don’t need a 31-year-old star and it’ll be difficult for contenders to free up the necessary cap space without gutting their teams.
The Celtics could be looking at the middle of the pack teams to find a trade partner. A team that’s on the edge of the playoffs or on the edge of contending and believes that Hayward is the missing ingredient to get them over the hump. Could that be the Spurs?
The Spurs typically don’t go in for the big trades but this year has been anything but typical and they’re already involved in some pretty heavy rumors as it is. If they do decide to pull off a blockbuster to acquire Gordon Hayward here are two ways it could go down.
Next: A win-win for Spurs and C's
Nov 9, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) walks up the court in the first half of the game agains the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. (Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs swap Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge for Gordon Hayward
After falling to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals the Boston Celtics have some changes to make. They can start in their frontcourt.
The Celtics have two of the best young wings in the league in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum but they’ve got no answer Bam Adebayo. Miami’s star center bullied them in the Conference Finals, they truly had no answer for him.
One solution could be swapping Gordon Hayward for LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay. Aldridge doesn’t have the speed he as a younger man but he’s a battle-tested veteran who will have no problem holding his own against the Adebayo’s and Embiid’s that the Celtics will face as they make their push for another appearance in the Conference Finals.
Gay gets added in to make the salaries work but he’s well suited for the role that Hayward was filling this year. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to have an impact and his performance in the bubble proved that, even after a shaky year, he can still have an impact.
For the Spurs, this trade gives them options. A team led by Hayward and DeMar DeRozan with the Spurs young wings and guards playing secondary roles, and Jakob Poeltl stepping in to lock down the paint could contend for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Losing Aldridge and Gay would sting. But the Spurs were backed into a corner when they lost Aldridge before the season restarted and how they responded could have opened the door to new possibilities.
Without Aldridge, San Antonio went small and fast. They were playing at one of the fastest paces in the league while having one of the best offensive ratings in the NBA over their final eight games. Trading for an athletic, do it all forward like Hayward could be their way of signaling that they’re fully leaning into this new style of play.
And if the Spurs don’t think the two are the long-term solution they can always let them walk in the summer of 2021. Then the Spurs could head out into the open market themselves, armed with nearly the most available cap space of any team in the league.
Next: The mega-deal
Nov 9, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) steps back to take a shot in the first half of the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, and Utah Jazz unite to reshape the NBA
A fair word of warning, this is the type of trade that would completely reshape the NBA landscape as we know it. And before you say dismiss it as one that would never happen, look at the deals we saw go down last year.
Shortly after signing an extension and declaring that he was staying in OKC for the long haul, Paul George was flipped to the LA Clippers for a chest of picks and some very promising players. Shortly thereafter, Russell Westbrook was out the door.
Nothing is off the table anymore and we could be in for one of the wildest stretches of transactions in recent memory over the coming weeks. So who is to say that a deal of this magnitude couldn’t happen.
This is very much like our last proposed blockbuster but with a few extra steps. The Utah Jazz are staring down the barrel of a supermax extension for Rudy Gobert that could clog up their books for the foreseeable future. This deal offers them an out from that potential reality.
The Celtics have three first-round picks in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft and they need precisely none of them. They’ve already got a championship-caliber roster and have young players sitting on the end of their bench waiting for playing time. Bundle a few picks together with Marcus Smart and go get the best rim protector in the league.
This is Boston going all-in. There’s a slim chance that they’ll be able to retain Tatum, Brown, Kemba Walker, Gobert, and Aldridge after this year but with those five on the team, they should be the heavy favorites to come out of the East. And maybe capturing a title could entice Gobert to take a bit of a discount to remain with his new team.
The Spurs still get the options that they had in the last deal. With Hayward on the roster, they’re free to turn up the pace even more and see what a multi-pronged attack led by their guards and wings is capable of.
And then comes Utah. Now the Jazz have a versatile defensive option to play alongside Donovan Mitchell, as well as two first-round picks to reshape the roster how they’d like. The fit between Mitchell and Gobert was always odd. This blockbuster gives Utah the freedom to build around their young star without having to worry about keeping their other franchise cornerstone in on every move.
I’m not in favor of the San Antonio Spurs being one of the teams lining up to offer Gordon Hayward and extension when free agency opens. But if the Celtics are looking to trade him they should put out a few feelers to see what it would cost to bring him to San Antonio.