After reading Gordon Hayward’s article in The Players Tribune, it was very clear why the 27-year-old All-Star decided to leave the Utah Jazz as a free agent. However, Hayward wasn’t clear why he chose to join the Boston Celtics.
CSN New England and Yahoo Sports Senior Writer Chris Mannix joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio Wednesday to explain why Hayward will sign a four-year, $128 million deal with the Celtics.
“I don’t know that there’s a lot of layers to it. I think the obvious example is that they’re equipped to win,” Mannix said. “And knowing what Boston’s pitch was going to be which was going to be on a few layers, you can win here, we’re a 53-win team, we add you to our mix as our small forward on the outside, we can get to 60 wins we think pretty easily, and we can compete right away with Cleveland. I think that was a huge factor. And Brad Stevens.”
As Mannix points out, Hayward’s relationship with his former college coach at Butler, Brad Stevens, dates back several years, including a magical 2010 NCAA Tournament National Championship game, and that was going to be a huge asset for the Celtics.
“Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward, I’ve felt for months and months now was going to be an overriding factor in all this,” Mannix said. “When you got a guy recruiting Hayward, who was not a huge star coming into the college ranks, that got Hayward to Butler, that developed him into a top 10 draft pick, that bond was iron clad. And I knew, or I felt anyways, that Brad Stevens in a room with him was going to be hugely influential, and it was.”
Mannix thinks Hayward’s decision to join Boston wasn’t as difficult as some would think.
“He’s 27. He’s basically just signing a three-year deal. Whether it’s the Jazz of the Celtics, he’s most likely going to opt out after three years because of financial reasons,” Mannix said. “So he’s looking at the next three years, he’s seeing the Western Conference becoming an arms race, he’s seeing George Hill go somewhere else, it just sort of all lined up for the Celtics that I think made it a tough but easier decision.”
As Mannix points out, the Eastern Conference might get even easier for Hayward and the Celtics if LeBron James opts out of his contract with Cleveland next summer and decides to leave again. Although, the analyst warned James might want to think about that real hard before he jumps ship on The Land again.
“I’ve heard the same thing as other people have, the wondering eye of LeBron has him looking elsewhere,” Mannix said. “You never know what’s happening behind the scenes. We know when Miami came together LeBron, Wade, Bosh they had been talking about that for years, so we never know who is talking to who about what, but there’s going to be some real opportunities for him in the off-season.
“The question is, is it worth Cleveland unless you’re going to a team that you’re sure is going to win? Because if he leaves Cleveland again, it won’t be as bad as it was in 2010 because he did get them a championship, but it’s not like he’s going to be welcomed back there every off-season with open arms. So I think LeBron at 34, which he will be around December of next season will have to decide what’s important to him. And if playing in Cleveland competing for a championship every year is ok, or if he wants to roll the dice and kind of toss away everything he had in Cleveland to try to take one more stab at it somewhere else.”