Although adding draft picks remains the Boston Celtics’ primary focus as the NBA trade deadline approaches, they haven’t completely disregarded quality, young players who might be available.
Utah Jazz guard/forward Gordon Hayward has drawn some interest from the Celtics, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. The fourth-year swingman’s contract expires at the end of this season after he couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension with the Jazz last fall.
Hayward, 23, will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning the Jazz would have the right to match any offer he receives from another team. If the Celtics acquired Hayward in a trade, they would assume that right.
Hayward makes just under $3.5 million this season in the final guaranteed year of his rookie contract, so finding salary to swap for Hayward isn’t the problem for the Celtics — it’s finding something Utah would want.
“It would appear the one thing that might nudge Utah toward giving serious thought to dealing Hayward would be if the Celtics were willing to part with at least one of their stockpiled first-round picks,” Blakely writes.
The Jazz don’t really have a pressing need for a point guard, thanks to rookie Trey Burke’s impressive play, and their sole concern for now is maintaining financial flexibility. They therefore have little interest in Rajon Rondo and his $11.9 million contract. They’re also believed to be keeping one of their wing positions warm for Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, highly sought prospects in this year’s NBA draft.
In other words, don’t count on being able to unload Jeff Green or Gerald Wallace on the unsuspecting Jazz, folks.
Hayward played under current Celtics coach Brad Stevens for two years at Butler University, helping lead the Bulldogs to the 2010 NCAA Championship game before leaving school after his sophomore season. He is averaging 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in 47 starts at shooting guard for the Jazz this season.