All-Star wing Gordon Hayward could make his free agency decision as early as Tuesday, and the Boston Celtics have pulled out all the stops to ensure that the 27-year-old signs with them.
After spending his first seven seasons with the Utah Jazz, Hayward is on the open market for the first time in his career. He’s also coming off of his best professional season, in which he averaged 21.9 points per game for a 51-win team. With so much money on the table, the Indiana native has been doing his due diligence to find the best fit, and that process included a weekend trip to Boston to meet with Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and other members of the front office.
Hayward was first spotted in the Bay State on Saturday night, when Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was seen picking him up from Logan International Airport. Stevens coached Hayward for two seasons when he was at Butler, and they made it to the National Championship Game together back in 2010.
Heading into the weekend, reports indicated that the Celtics brass would try to entice Hayward with a basketball-centric pitch, but it seems they couldn’t resist regaling him with tales of Boston glory. One of their first stops on Sunday was Fenway Park, where a jumbotron message welcomed Hayward and his wife to the city.
Once there, Ainge, along with assistant general manager Mike Zarren and franchise point guard Isaiah Thomas, showed a brief video designed to celebrate the Boston experience. Twitter user @Parziale_Here managed to capture some of the footage, which was displayed on Fenway’s big screen. The 45-second clip includes footage of Boston icons such as Paul Pierce and Red Auerbach.
Thomas, a two-time All-Star, hasn’t been shy about trying to nudge Hayward towards Boston this offseason. He’s liked Instagram posts, engaged in emoji wars and dropped eye-catching comments, all in an effort to secure more talent for his team. It’s no surprise that he was on hand to make his case to Hayward.
Hayward, meanwhile, is reportedly also considering a return to the Jazz, as well as the Miami Heat. He is expected to land one of the richest contracts of the offseason.
My brother just came back from a mission trip to Nicaragua from Miami to Boston and Hayward was on the flight! Here’s a picture with them! pic.twitter.com/rvyvFMED9f
— John Habershaw (@JohnHabershaw) July 2, 2017