Boston Celtics Analysis: The Problem of Signing Gordon Hayward – Rotation, Payroll Cuts and Re-Signing Isaiah Thomas

By Jeff Harris, Posted: 07/06/17 02:41AM EDT
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Gordon Hayward
The 27-year old, 6'8" NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward decided to join the Boston Celtics(Photo : Ximo Pierto/YouTube Screenshot)

Undoubtedly, the Boston Celtics is the luckiest NBA team during the free agency after snagging Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. Yet, signing the 6'8" NBA All-Star small forward only created more problems rather than solutions for the Celtics front office.

In addition to making payroll cuts to make room for max offer, Hayward will create rotation problem with small forward-laden Celtics. Plus, having a second max player will definitely have a big impact in re-signing Isaiah Thomas who will become an unrestricted free agent in July 2018.

Boston Celtics Loaded with Small Forwards

Gordon Hayward is a legitimate small forward. And so is Jae Crowder, this year's third overall pick Jayson Tatum, and last year's third overall pick Jaylen Brown. If Celtics coach Brad Stevens could devise a game plan to make two small forwards play together alongside Al Horford, who at 6'10" is a little small for his position, then it's a good thing for the Celtics.

Or, move Crowder and rookie Semi Ojeleye to No. 4. At 6'6" Crowder is a bit small for a power forward position, just like Ojeleye who stands at 6'7". Somehow, both players have bodies which could subdue even the likes of DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan so that would be an easy transition. This way, Hayward can operate 100 percent at No. 3.

Payroll Cuts

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the Boston Celtics management led by Danny Ainge needs a series of transactions to create cap space for Gordon Hayward. As we reported earlier, Boston Celtics's current payroll stands at $71.23 million and this figure does not include unsigned free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young, and Gerald Green. This also led to Boston renouncing Kelly Olynyk's qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

According to Marks, this could mean parting ways with the three role players. In addition, the Celtics might also resort to waiving the contracts of Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson, or trade to future draft picks, effectively eliminating their numbers in the payroll. Even if all things go accordingly, the salary space wouldn't even suffice the max salary accorded to a superstar like Gordon Hayward.

Re-Signing Isaiah Thomas

 "They better bring out the Brinks truck," Thomas, jokingly told reporters during the Celtics' summer league last year as posted by CSNNE. This was in response to a question on what he thinks will happen when he becomes a free agent in 2018. Thomas added, "They're paying everybody else. I gotta get something."

According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, there are two remaining options for the Boston Celtics. As a result of a sign-and-trade deal between the Sacramento Kings (Thomas' first NBA team) and Phoenix Suns, the Boston Celtics could try to renegotiate and extend his contract, effectively locking Isaiah Thomas for a long-term deal. Should that happen and based on current salary cap projections, Amick said Thomas stands to earn a combined $145.5 million within four years.

However, a combined $179 million max deal over five years top with $40.8 million in the fifth year awaits Thomas should he decide to become a free agent. So how will the Boston Celtics come up with the figures for Gordon Hayward, Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford?



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