In part because the Boston Celtics hit on a pair of first-round picks, Gordon Hayward is a luxury.
He’s a fine player, but he’s excessive. Redundant, even.
And by no means should he be off the table in trade talks — especially if there’s fire to the smoke that is the rumors surrounding Hayward and the Indiana Pacers.
The latest murmurs indicate that the Celtics and Pacers have discussed a swap that would send Hayward to his native Indiana and Myles Turner to Boston. Certainly, such a deal would not be 1-for-1, and the Celtics would have to send, among other things, likely a first-round pick to Indy.
But although Boston has seen nice growth from Daniel Theis, especially this past season, Turner exponentially would upgrade the frontcourt. He is a sound defender who can do a little bit of everything in the offensive end. The center position has been an issue for the Celtics for a while now, and Turner is a legitimate solution for that problem.
First, money. Turner is signed for the next three years at $18 million a year before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Hayward is entering the final year of his deal and would have to opt in for next year, which is supposed to pay him $34.2 million before he again becomes an unrestricted free agency.
Because of the money at play here, such a deal promises to be a challenging transaction. But Hayward likely would be amenable to playing for the Pacers, and the forward opting out would create a nuclear cap scenario for Boston. If the Celtics can get him to opt in and flip him in a trade, it would very much be worth both parties’ while if Hayward actually wants out.
On the court though, Turner would be able to add a legitimate star big man presence. As it’s constructed now, all Celtics centers (sans Theis) have one specific skill. Robert Williams is great around the rim, while Enes Kanter is a borderline defensive liability, though a solid scorer and rebounder.
Adding Turner into the mix would make Brad Stevens’ life easier. For one, the 24-year-old is capable of logging big minutes on a nightly basis, averaging 29.5 minutes per game. He’s done that while coexisting with another big man in Domantas Sabonis, suggesting he wouldn’t necessarily make Theis obsolete.
He also has the baseline skills the Celtics have shown they like in their big men. For one, he can step out and shoot all over the floor, even ramping up his 3-point attempts in recent years to four per game on average. Considering how the Celtics have stretched out Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Theis the last few seasons, they must love the idea of bringing in Turner.
He’s also strong enough to clear the paint with his box outs. Since Stevens prefers to have his big men box out and his guards crash the boards, that is a useful asset, as well. Turner also blocks shots with the best of them, leading the league with 2.7 per game in the 2018-19 campaign.
Doing — or even considering — this deal isn’t a knock at Hayward, he’s just not essential with the way Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have developed. Especially as Hayward enters his contract year, it would be a far more shrewd long-term decision for the Celtics to flip him, especially if it’s going to bring a player like Turner back to Boston.