Whether it has been Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, and now Kemba Walker, the point guard position has been a revolving door for the Boston Celtics in recent years.
Now the C’s are tasked with cultivating a rapport with Walker, who signed a four-year, $140.8 million deal with the C’s at the beginning of free agency this offseason after spending all eight of his NBA seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.
And according to Gordon Hayward, who is entering his third year with the C’s, working together with Walker and playing alongside the All-Star guard has not been a painstaking process.
“I think everyone’s building chemistry with him,” Hayward said. “He’s a pretty easy guy to play with and we’re just learning each other’s strengths.”
A year after Hayward was drafted by the Utah Jazz, Walker, who bested a Brad Stevens-coached Butler squad in the 2011 national championship in his final year at UConn during Hayward’s rookie campaign, entered the NBA.
With that close promxity, Hayward kept an eye on Walker as they both asecnded in the league and the two almost became teammates well before linking up in Boston this season.
In the summer of 2014, Hayward signed a four-year, $63 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent with the Hornets, which the Jazz matched to retain Hayward’s services. The visit to Charlotte where the Hornets could swoon over the 6-foot-8 forward seemed to have left somewhat of a mark on Hayward, who wasn’t a heavily recruited out of high school.
And while the Walker-Hayward combination never came to be in Charlotte, Hayward is relshing the opportunity to now team up with Walker.
“Being in the league together and coming in around the same time, and doing different things as rookies and sophomores and select team on USA and also going to visiting Charlotte, all those things add up,” Hayward said. “I’ve been watching him in the league for a while, so it sure is exciting to be able to play with him.”
The veterans have used training camp and their preseason slate of games to work on the chemistry required to form what could be dynamic duo for the Celtics. There isn’t a secret recipe or anything magical they are doing.
It comes in the little things that could elevate Hayward and Walker to a level they couldn't achieve while playing for separate franchises.
“It’s repetition. Figuring out exactly where we’re going to be out on the court. Where he likes to be at. Where he likes to get the ball, and that goes for everybody, too,” Hayward said. “With the offense that we’re running, it’s pretty versatile. Guys can be in different spots. So some of it is just the timing thing that we’re working on and making sure our timings are right, our cuts are right, our spacing is good, getting everybody a chance to be able to make plays, which we have a lot guys who can.”