I was out in the yard raking leaves when I found out that Gordon Hayward was leaving the Celtics. I saw the news and let out a audible yelp/gasp. Turns out Gordon is the one raking - to the tune of $120M.
Two quick points on this before I move on. First, that’s absolutely a gut-punch for the Celtics. They lose a core piece of their rotation and a very valuable asset for nothing*. (More on that asterisk later) Second, I don’t know if you can blame this on Danny Ainge. If some random team was going to be willing to give Hayward that much money, he’s right to take that money and Danny is right to wish him happy trails. Maybe we all should have seen this coming based on the “it only takes one” rule.
That’s not to say that Ainge is perfect and never makes mistakes (I really wish he had addressed the bench more last season, I don’t know how he hasn’t consolidated picks in the last few years, his recent record of mid-to-late draft picks has been suspect). I mean, if Hayward was willing to take $20M less to go home to Indy and the deal fell through because Ainge got greedy, that’s certainly an “L” (as they say). That’s a big “if” though and I kind of doubt it played out that way. Charlotte came with the big bags of cash late in the game and that was the end. Good for Gordon and his agent.
Once the Gordon Hayward shoe dropped, it seemed like all was lost. The Hornets weren’t even willing to play ball on a sign-and-trade. Instead electing to waive and stretch Batum (which would have resulted in $9M in dead money over the course of the next 3 seasons). It was the worst case scenario for the Celtics because their options for adding talent dwindled down to using the full MLE and the bi-annual exception.
On that front, the Celtics moved rather quickly. After flirting with Paul Millsap (who eventually signed in Denver again) Boston signed longtime nemesis Tristan Thompson with the MLE. Then they were able to sign Jeff Teague to be the veteran guard we’ve needed for years.
Finally, (and here’s where that asterisk comes in) it seems that the Hornets had a change of heart. They will consider working out a sign-and-trade deal with the Celtics. Which only makes sense because the right kind of deal would benefit both sides. How that deal actually goes down is anyone’s guess at this point. It could be as simple as creating a big trade exception or it could be some complicated 3 team deal with lots of moving parts. Frankly that part makes my head hurt but the cap guys are all excited about it and that’s good enough for me.
So stay tuned for more rollercoaster rides today and in the coming days. This shortened offseason has been a wild ride already but it feels like there’s more drama left to play out.