Celtics vs Jazz Preview: Meet Your Future Small Forward?!?

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Nov 6, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Utah Jazz small forward

Gordon Hayward

(20) drives the ball against Boston Celtics point guard

Avery Bradley

(0) in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Jazz 97-87. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Who in the world did the Boston Celtics anger in the NBA offices, Celtics Nation?

Back-to-back road games are hard enough, right?  But scheduling two sets of back-to-back road games in five nights?!?   That’s someone looking to settle a score right there.

Anywho, in my Celtics vs Jazz preview I’m shining the bright, hot spotlight on a player I would love to see the Boston Celtics try and trade for, take a look at who has helped the Cs eke out a 2-2 record on this current six-game road trip, and what the heck: I’ll even throw in a prediction for ya!

How’s that for service?

Operation: Get Gordon Hayward

I’ll come right out and say it: the Charlotte Hornets pissed me off this summer when they offered Gordon Hayward a max-contract worth $63 million over four years.

The Utah Jazz had been saying all along that they were going to match any offer that a team threw Hayward’s way, so instead of playing a game of chicken with the Jazz, the Hornets should have continued to let the rift between Hayward and the Jazz grow, since contract negotiations between those two had stalled back in October of 2013.

It was my hope that the Jazz would do something along the lines of what Detroit did with Greg Monroe: get him to agree to sign a one-year qualifying offer, and then watch him reunite with Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Thanks a ton, Michael Jordan!

Clearly, Hayward’s new contract with the Jazz doesn’t mean the Celtics cannot find a way to reunite him with Stevens; it just makes it a little more difficult, is all.  But based on the way Hayward is playing this season, it would definitely behoove Danny Ainge to start thinking about getting on the horn with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey to see if he make a deal.

As per basketball-reference.com, Hayward is having a breakout season so far in 2014-2015.  His usage rate has climbed to 25.3%, meaning the Jazz run a quarter of their offensive plays through him, and look at the results:

Hayward is rewarding the Jazz’s faith in him with his career bests in scoring, steals, and free throw attempts per game.  His value over replacement player (VORP) is a career-high 3.2, which means his wins over replacement is 8.64, one of the 25-best in the league.

You know what else I like about Hayward?  He’s freaking healthy!  Kid has played in no less than 72 games every non-shortened season, and this year he has yet to miss a game.   When you look at Hayward, you don’t have any lingering doubts about knees, back, neck, etc.  He’s a safe investment, both in terms of his health and what the Celtics would be getting from him on the court.   Given this, and the relationship he already has with Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge should be outright fired for not attempting to go out and get this kid.

Next: Road Warrior