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Gordon Hayward to draw ‘real interest’ from Celtics in free agency

Brad Stevens’s former Butler forward may be a priority in 2017 offseason

NBA: Utah Jazz at Boston Celtics Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward has once again found himself in the middle of speculation regarding joining the Boston Celtics and his former college coach Brad Stevens.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, in his annual 30 crazy predictions for the upcoming NBA season, made a brief mention of the Celtics and Stevens’s ‘real interest’ in Hayward coupled with the ability to offer a max contract.

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.

Lowe never explicitly mentions the Celtics or Stevens, but the implied notion is there. On the other hand, that statement was sandwiched between two paragraphs in which Lowe predicted the 26-year-old Hayward to re-sign with the Jazz, ending with the following:

But if Utah makes a leap, the smart money is on Hayward sticking. The Jazz can offer a winning young core, an extra fifth season and if the new CBA breaks right for them, a little more cash than home teams can dangle under the current deal.

Since Stevens signed on to become the Celtics head coach, rumors have always swirled around Hayward’s connection with his former Butler head coach. In 2014 when Hayward was a restricted free agent, speculation swarmed around Boston as a potential landing spot.

Should Lowe be off on his overall prediction and Hayward leaves Utah in favor of Boston next summer, the space at the small forward position will grow even smaller. Current swingman Jae Crowder signed a 5-yard, $35 million contract with the Celtics this past offseason.