The Boston Celtics came out on top in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes.
Making his way into his first new home after spending seven seasons with the Utah Jazz, the small forward had a good feeling about Boston.
“The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy for me,” Hayward said, per ESPN. “There was just something different about Boston and different about being a Celtic. It was just a special feeling when talking about being a Boston Celtic. And that ultimately won me over.”
Arguably the most intriguing free agent on the market, Hayward eliminated the Miami Heat from his potential landing spots, pitting the Jazz, who drafted him ninth overall in 2010, against the Celtics.
Boston had struck out on potential trades for Jimmy Butler or Paul George but made the Eastern finals with its current core. The Jazz small forward was a good add, but if it’s enough to get past LeBron James and the Cavs remains the million-dollar question.
Hayward, who is off his first and only All-Star bid, poured in a career-high 21.9 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting, marking the first time he averaged more than 20 over his seven-year tenure. His point-per-game clip has improved each season while he shot a personal-best 84.4 percent from the free-throw line in 2016-17.
Following a four-year postseason drought, Hayward led the Jazz into the playoffs this past season, where he only upped his game. Over 11 contests, he notched 24.1 points per game and added 6.1 rebounds to lead Utah into the second round, ultimately a series loss to the would-be champion, Golden State.