In recent seasons, the Boston Celtics have unearthed diamonds in the rough from the EuroLeague. From Daniel Theis to Brad Wanamaker, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens turned unknown names into league-wide respected role players.
Now, Stevens is rumored to be interested in continuing that tradition, with Nigel Hayes the next possible arrival. Hayes, now 26, went undrafted during the 2017 NBA Draft following his 4-year collegiate career with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Source confirms that the Celtics had Nigel Hayes in for a workout this week. @Carchia was first to report.— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) July 23, 2021
Hayes impressed during the workout, and there is interest on both sides in regards to a roster spot -- there have been no summer league discussions at this point.
Standing at 6-foot-8, Hayes could add some much needed size to the Celtics bench, and would likely be vying for minutes with fellow forward Jabari Parker. Since making the move to European basketball, the Ohio native has had stops with Turkish team Galatasaray and Lithuanian team Žalgiris Kaunas.
Cap space is somewhat of an endangered species for the Celtics this summer, making this move a possibility. In 2015, NBA Draft Room has this to say about the forward: “Reminiscent of a poor man’s Draymond Green with his powerful build and versatile game. Who Does all the little things well and impacts the game in a lot of ways. Can defend multiple positions and has a lot of versatility on both ends of the floor.”
Questions around Hayes’ scoring ability were rife throughout his time in Wisconsin, where he went 33.2% from three over four seasons, and a concerning 66% from the line. Exposure to more playing time against EuroLeague athletes seems to have resolved some of his scoring deficiencies though, with Hayes ending this year shooting 44.3% from down town and 89.4% at the charity stripe.
If Hayes can carry some of that shooting form over to the NBA, along with his defensive activity and intangible off-ball movement, Stevens and new head coach Ime Udoka could envision him having a similar impact to Theis and Wanamaker.
With Hayes likely to command a minimum contract, any potential deal would be a low-risk, high-reward dice roll, that could add some depth and competition at both the forward spots.
Free Agency is due to begin on August 6th, marking precisely two weeks until the Celtics can begin to fill out their roster in Stevens and Udoka’s image.