Chris Mannix on OMF: Gordon Hayward is Celtics
Note: This story originally appeared on WEEI's website. The site has been reworked and older stories were deleted, and it's been reposted here in its entirety.
As the dust settles on the draft and trade rumors continue to swirl across the NBA, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Friday to discuss the Celtics’ offseason plans.
Reports came out last night that the Celtics were engaged in conversations with the Pacers about potentially acquiring Paul George, but Mannix said that while a George deal is not out of the question, it’s not Boston’s main focus.
“The signals I’m getting out of Boston is that their top priority right now is Gordon Hayward,” Mannix said. “If they could steal Paul George, they do it. I mean if you could get a franchise player for 35-40 cents on dollar, make that move. But there’s some optimism in Boston from people I’ve talked to over the last couple of months that they can get [Hayward].”
The Celtics have long been linked to Hayward, who has developed into one of league’s elite scorers at the small forward position. When free agency hits on July 1, Mannix says the Celtics’ odds of locking down the Jazz All-Star long-term are high – not just for the Brad Stevens connection.
In Thursday’s draft, the Jazz conceivably grabbed a George Hill replacement in Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell. Hill could walk away this offseason as well, and Mannix says the Celtics’ best pitch to Hayward is how much more competitive their team will be next season compared to the Jazz.
“I think Boston will point Gordan that direction and say, ‘You really wanna be part of that for the next four years?’ We’re a 53-win team, close to 60 with you on it. We make a run at the Cavaliers next year with you on it,” Mannix said.
As for the George rumors, while Mannix believes he will be dealt “if not the next couple days, certainly the first week in free agency,” he does not think a Hayward/George combination would be a good fit for the Celtics.
“I do think that there’s a redundancy of George and Gordan Hayward,” Mannix said. “I’m not so sure that playing them together necessarily works.”
He believes that at best, only one of the two is in Green next season. If it’s Hayward, it won’t be an easy decision, though.
“If he signs with Boston, he’s not gonna show up at a press conference with a beaming smile,” Mannix said. “He’s just the type of guy that I think really is gonna have a rough time making the call to walk away from the Utah Jazz.”
While it may appear that the Celtics have a clear offseason vision, Mannix believes they deviated from that by trading the No. 1 pick, and in doing so could have jeopardized their chances at a Kristaps Porzingis trade.
“Markelle Fultz would have been exactly the type of player that Phil Jackson – it seems like he has wanted over the years,” he said. “I just wonder if they had not pulled the trigger in Boston on that deal, still had one, still had the picks down the line, could they have gotten that deal for Porzingis done?”
The 7-footer remains in New York for the time being, and the Celtics are left with an abundance of assets and plenty of options as the offseason heats up.