Two straight years, two big free agent announcements on July 4th. Last year, it was Kevin Durant to the Warriors, yesterday it was Gordon Hayward to the Celtics. Safe to say that the sequel wasn’t as shocking as the original.

First off, Hayward is an excellent player, but he’s not Kevin Durant. And secondly, he’s not joining a team that had just been to two straight finals.

And it didn’t exactly come out of left field. Chris Haynes jumped the route and broke the story. And by the looks of it, might have broken it before Hayward told the Jazz. Oops. That’s not ideal.

So they waited a while longer, allegedly wrestled with the decision some more, and then roughly 6 hours later, dropped the official news on The Players Tribune.

For all the talk about him wrestling with that decision all day yesterday, he managed to drop a two thousand word essay like a boss. That’s every procrastinator’s dream. Either my man had already put that piece in the can, or dude is freaking F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway combined, because ask him, he just sat down and banged that piece out on a moment’s notice. But just because the rollout wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean it’s not a big move. It is.

The team with the best regular season record in the East just added an All-Star who just put up career highs in points, rebounds, and showed up big in the playoffs. And they did it without having to give up any of their most valuable assets. In other words, Danny Ainge and the Celtics continue to simultaneously compete and rebuild at the same time. And landing Hayward is a shot in the arm for Ainge, who was starting to hear some questions about whether or not he’d be able to land a big-time player, after striking out in the trade market.

Now Hayward’s reuniting with Brad Stevens and while Hayward doesn’t make them the favorite in the east, that’s still Cleveland, it does make them the favorite for when Cleveland takes a step back, which could be sooner rather than later, the way things are going in Cleveland.

While the Celtics added Hayward, the Cavs countered with Jose Calderon. And LeBron reportedly isn’t going to help the team recruit anyone as he has in the past. Then again, it’s not like he has much to offer other than the chance to get punched in the face by the Warriors again. They mortgaged a good part of their future to get that ring and now have next to nothing to offer any potential free agents who actually matters. Because Calderon really doesn’t.

Back back to the Jazz for a minute. Jazz fan RAGED when it became official. Just listen to the venom from these fans who were burning his jersey.

That’s just pure, unadulterated emotion and rage. Straight Fire!! Absolutely savage. Dropping a “b-word” blast?! Settle down, Jazz fan.

Honestly, that whole thing almost seems fake, starting with the fact that they were burning the jersey in a fire pit. Who does that? There’s nothing more played out than burning a guy’s jersey when he leaves in free agency. You’re burning an article of your clothing, that you paid for, because someone else decided to change companies. The only thing lamer than that, is burning something and vandalizing your town when your team wins it all.

It’s so tired. And you could tell Jazz fan’s heart wasn’t even in it. Nor should it be. It’s almost like they were doing it just because they felt like they had to do it. But deep down, you know he’s not a traitor. He’s a really good player and by all accounts, a good dude. It’s not like he stiffed you. He practically spent his entire essay apologizing for leaving.  The guy owes you nothing. The only thing he owed you, was to go all in and do whatever he could to make himself a better player and the Jazz, a better franchise, and that’s exactly what he did.

Fact is, there is no one to blame here; he earned the right to leave… And he did… And the team probably couldn’t have done any more than it did to try to keep him. They took their best shot and came up just short.

I know, Jazz fan, you wanted this guy to be a John Stockton and spend his entire career with the Jazz but you shouldn’t be bent that he didn’t. Because Stockton essentially is the only guy who did. Hell, even Karl Malone bounced to chase a ring. So stop burning his gear and saying he betrayed you. He didn’t.

Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t suck for you. It does. He’s a franchise caliber player; they built everything around him, and pretty much ran the offense through him. And you were a 51 win team, and a division champion that was built in a really cool way. And now he’s gone and that’s over.

But the Jazz aren’t going to fall apart…they’re not going to have start all over. That’s a smart organization with a really good head coach in Quin Snyder. But you can’t fault Hayward for leaving. Reaching the Finals in the West is borderline impossible. Reaching it in the East is a hell of a lot easier.

Every other good player is either moving west or staying in the West. The Eastern Conference All-Star team is going to be LeBron, Kyrie, Hayward, John Wall, and a cardboard cutout of Tree Rollins.

Smart move for Hayward and a smart move for the Celtics. I wouldn’t have cracked him for staying nor am I going to smash him for leaving. If you’re being really honest with yourself, Jazz fan, you know this day was coming; and if you were in his shoes, you’d probably do the same thing.


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