Would an off-season trade back to Utah be beneficial for Boston Celtics and Gordon Hayward?

Boston Celtics (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

With the Utah Jazz in town tonight and Gordon Hayward once again on the shelf, is it possible both the Boston Celtics and Hayward can benefit from an off-season trade back to his original team?

Back in 2017, there was a legitimate sweepstakes for the services of Gordon Hayward that the Boston Celtics ended up winning. The incumbent Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat were also after the services of the then 27-year-old, who was fresh off of an All-Star appearance that year.

It took a max deal to corral the services of the 21 point per game do-it-all wing for Danny Ainge and co. and acquiring the Butler product and pairing him with his college coach Brad Stevens was supposed to take his game to the next level alongside Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.

There was no sustained success with that core, and last June, Ainge pulled the plug from the Irving experiment while watching Al Horford take an overpay to defect to the Philadelphia 76ers. Hayward is the lone remaining star from what was supposed to be a two-year free agency transformation project for the C’s to become contenders.

It looks like Boston is heading towards a top-3 record at worst in the Eastern Conference. Their ceiling could be as high as the #2 seed and an easier first round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets or the Orlando Magic rather than as the #3 seed taking on either Indiana or the 76ers.

Hayward hasn’t been the reason. In taking a backseat to Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum–and in reality Jaylen Brown as well–Hayward has become a role player making star-player money. Given the lack of bench production (currently, the C’s bench ranks 28th in the association in points-per-game (27.6) and 26th in the league in 3-point percentage at 31.7 percent), a Hayward trade could quickly improve the team’s second unit by fetching multiple pieces back.

The logistics of a Hayward trade are simple: 120 percent of the $34 million he is owed next season could be brought back in a deal. That means two mid-level salary plus lower salary filler could solve multiple issues across the depth chart at the expense of a star who is miscast in his role as forth option.

An interesting landing spot is tonight’s opponent, the Utah Jazz. Obviously, Hayward is familiar with the franchise he spent his first seven seasons with. Utah is a  quasi-contender out west who is lacking the star power and shot creation in the starting lineup outside of Donovan Mitchell.

Their gamble on Mike Conley has not paid off, and the team has had multiple losing streaks this season that have held them back from the upper echelon of the Western Conference playoff picture. They won’t have much money to spend this off-season and have never been a franchise that has relied on free agency to improve.

A Hayward deal could make sense if Ainge feels the current core is capped out assuming they can’t get past the Milwaukee Bucks in a postseason matchup. His deal is the only key to bringing value back, and as mentioned, the exorbitant price tag could fetch multiple guys back.

In this proposed deal, the Boston Celtics could space the floor with the sharpshooting of Bojan Bogdanovic, get second-unit play-making with Joe Ingles, get a useful two-way wing in Royce O’Neal and add a rim-protecting big in Ed Davis. Utah brings in another star who could support Mitchell’s offensive efforts and has thrived in Salt Lake City before:

Boston Celtics get: Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal and Ed Davis

Utah Jazz get: Gordon Hayward

What do you think? Drop a line in the comments below.

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