Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports made every Boston fan sit on the edge of their seats and get their hopes up with the power of a single tweet. He tweeted the Celtics intent to pair up superstars Gordon Hayward and Paul George alongside superstars Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. This move would change the NBA and turn the Celtics into what people nowadays call a “superteam.”
If the Cavs and the Warriors can do it, why not the Celtics? Pulling off a move like this would make Boston make some trades they may not want to make. Fan favorites like Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and even Avery Bradley may be the odd men out if this were to happen. Then, guys like Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Gerald Green, Jordan Mickey, Demetrius Jackson, and James Young may get waived or not be resigned to add on more money for George and Hayward. The Celtics’ roster would be getting a makeover, but it would be worth it, especially if Danny Ainge somehow gets to keep his most valuable assets. Not only would the Celtics become one of the most dominant teams in the league, but they will more than likely be holding onto assets to continue building towards the future. Not to mention they still have Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Ante Zizic, and potentially Guerschon Yabusele. Fans may not be too excited about getting rid of the core of guys that led the team to be the one seed and to the Eastern Conference Finals, but let me tell you the type of players they’d be getting in return.
Gordon Hayward is a guy that has been on the Celtics’ radar for a long time now. At Butler, he was coached by none other than Brad Stevens. Those two still share a strong relationship today, making his move to Boston even more likely. He’s improved his scoring every year since entering the league, can shoot the three ball exceptionally well, and is an excellent defender. I feel the reason why Boston didn’t put all their eggs in one basket with Jimmy Butler is that they are confident they can get Hayward in free agency. In my eyes, Butler and Hayward are very similar players, except Hayward is a better shooter and Butler is a slightly better defender. I don’t think Danny wanted to risk so much getting Butler when Hayward was going to be available for nothing. Averaging nearly 22 points last season, Hayward will more than happily help take the scoring load off of IT’s shoulders. He can create his own shot, drive, and shoot. Anything you ask of him he will do. Plus he’ll be playing in Brad Steven’s system, so he’ll automatically be astounding.
Paul George, like Hayward, has gotten better every year he’s been in the league. From averaging just 7 points his rookie year to averaging 22 his fourth year in the league, Paul George took the NBA by storm. He suffered a gruesome leg injury a few years back while playing for Team USA, but bounced back and has returned to his old self, if not better. Paul George’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors due to his unwillingness to stay in Indiana. Although it was rumored that Paul George would leave Indiana and join the LA Lakers in 2018, George made the rumor clear that he would not be returning. Why would Danny Ainge give up valuable assets and players for a guy that might be a one-year rental? Here’s the thing with Danny Ainge; he’s a magician. He knows what’s going on with Paul George. He knows the situation he’s in. Indiana will not get many “good” offers from teams around the league, but Boston can offer them the best one. An offer of Jae Crowder, the LAL 2018 pick, another first round pick, and maybe more picks or players to match the salaries may do the trick for Indiana. Indiana will not get an offer they’ll be pleased with, they have to realize that. Paul George is worth much more than Jae Crowder and a few picks, but no teams will give up a whole lot for a guy that may not come back after one year. If Danny Ainge is confident Paul George will resign, he’ll pull the trigger. When KG was traded to Boston, he had no intention of staying. Then he got to experience what winning felt like and stayed a few more years. Like KG once said, anything is possible.
By pulling off a trade for Paul George, Boston keeps one of its first round picks next year, their two rising stars (Tatum/Brown), and will obviously keep Isaiah and Horford. For this to work, Hayward would first have to sign with Boston, then they can trade for George. Now, this whole idea of a Big 4 could just burn to the ground if one thing does happen. If Gordon Hayward doesn’t come to Boston, Paul George isn’t coming to Boston. It’s known that Hayward and George want to play together, and coming together to Boston would be the easiest way of going about that, but if Hayward goes back to Utah or signs elsewhere, the deals off. I can only imagine Paul George resigning with the Celtics if Gordon Hayward is there. If Gordon Hayward doesn’t sign, then Danny won’t offer much for George and will ultimately end up not pulling the trigger on a deal. Now you could substitute Blake Griffin instead of Gordon Hayward, but Boston’s biggest focus this offseason is to sign Hayward. Maybe Paul George would stay if we signed Blake Griffin instead, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Another sad thing that may come out of this is letting go of Avery Bradley. Figuring out the money situation and seeing what the Celtics would have to do to get both Hayward and George is complicated, but what I’m getting from it is that it’s almost impossible to keep Bradley on the team. And that really, really sucks. Keeping Avery would turn this from a Big 4 to a Big 5. Avery is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. He’s improved every single year he’s been in the league. He’s grown right in front of Boston’s eyes.
I pray that Danny somehow finds a way to keep Avery on the team if this all goes down, but I’m planning on him not being in Celtic green come next season. And if he does stay in Boston, I don’t think it’ll be for long since his contract is up next year, and resigning him and Isaiah alongside paying these guys and Horford is an issue. If Hayward signs with Boston, Indiana may bump up the price for George, knowing the possibility of him resigning in Boston would skyrocket. Maybe then Avery would be included in a deal for George, but Danny will be stingy about it. If he must add Avery to make the trade work, he’ll probably screw the Pacers out of a pick or something like that.
Once all the band-aids are ripped off, and the fans of Boston finally see what this team can become next year, the pain of seeing our core guys leave will be all worth it. If Danny Ainge can somehow bring a team of Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, and Al Horford together, somebody must build that man a statue. Now, of course, this is all hypothetical, but if anybody could do it it’s Danny, and if Woj tweeted it, then it’s serious.
Regardless of what happens once free agency begins, I expect the Celtics roster to be much different than lasts. Danny Ainge isn’t done making moves, and he’s confident he can pull something off while keeping his treasure chest of picks. If the Celtics can put this team together, not only do I think they can be championship contenders, but I say they can beat Cleveland. Golden State is another story, but this team could make it past LeBron and the Cavs. If this team forms, quote me on that. Danny, do your thing. I’ve trusted you before, and I still trust you today you crazy bastard. Let’s get to work and bring banner number 18 to Boston.