The 2016-17 NBA season hasn’t even started yet, but it’s never too early to fire up the rumor mill.
ESPN.com NBA writer Zach Lowe did just that Wednesday in a column featuring 30 crazy predictions for the upcoming campaign. While most of those predictions don’t mention the Boston Celtics, Lowe’s column includes an interesting note: The C’s reportedly have “real interest” in Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.
From Lowe’s column:
“The Jazz have a ton of guys to pay, and if they down enough beers (just kidding, it’s Utah!), they might convince themselves they have the wing depth to withstand Hayward bolting. His beloved college coach runs a rising team with an easy roadmap to max cap space — and real interest in Hayward, per several league sources.”
Hayward will become a free agent next summer after his four-year, $63 million contract with Utah expires, and the Celtics likely will have the resources to sign him after the league’s new collective bargaining agreement raises the salary cap. Boston also has Brad Stevens, who was Hayward’s coach at Butler and still is close with the seven-year veteran.
Before Celtics fans get too excited, Lowe actually predicts Hayward will re-sign with the Jazz following a strong season for Utah. Boston also was rebuffed in its efforts to trade for Hayward back in 2014.
Hayward isn’t exactly a superstar, either, but the 26-year-old still figures to be a sought-after free agent target. He averaged a career-best 19.7 points per game last season while shooting a respectable 36 percent from 3-point range. Hayward also is a versatile swingman who likely would fit well in Boston’s pace-and-space offense.
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