The Gordon Hayward experiment in Boston has officially come to an end, and the feeling is bittersweet. After days of collecting my thoughts, analyzing the team, and wondering what Boston should do moving forward, here are my final thoughts on Gordon Hayward’s time in Boston.
When Gordon Hayward signed with Boston in 2017, it was a huge deal. After coming off an All-Star season where he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, Hayward was in line for a huge payday. On the 4th of July in 2017, Gordon Hayward signed a four-year/$128M deal with the Boston Celtics.
After joining forces with Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas (eventually Kyrie Irving), the Celtics had a ton of expectations heading into the new season. Those expectations crumbled and collapsed in less than six minutes.
Minutes into his Boston Celtics debut, Gordon Hayward dislocated and fractured his left tibia, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Expectations changed quickly, and the team had to act fast.
While Hayward was on the sidelines recovering from his injury, both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s responsibilities grew, and they now had more of an opportunity to grow and mature. They did just that, and because of their growth, Hayward was never able to fit into the rotation like he was meant to.
Throughout his three years in Boston, Hayward took a lot of crap he didn’t deserve. I mean, the dude suffered one of the worst sports injuries in recent memory, and fans still gave it to him when he wasn’t the same when he returned. I’d love to see fans try to make a full recovery in one year after fracturing and dislocating their tibia.
Not only did Hayward have to deal with the physical recovery, but he had to deal with the mental side of things too. It was clear he wasn’t ready to return in 2018. His mind wasn’t right, and he couldn’t find his role on the team. This sparked a move to the bench, as well as trade rumors for months ahead.
Fast forward to last season, and Gordon Hayward was back to playing like once was before his injury. Did we see All-Star Gordon Hayward in Boston? No, but I’m telling you, if he wasn’t the fourth option, there’s a chance we could’ve seen it.
Despite missing a handful of regular season and crucial playoff games due to numerous injuries, healthy Hayward had an incredible season. In 52 regular season games, Hayward averaged 17.5/6.7/4.1 on 50/38 shooting splits. You really can’t ask for much more out of a fourth option.
Despite what everybody says about Gordon Hayward and his injuries, he did nothing but help and made the team better when he was healthy. I’m talking about last season because I know he was a liability in 2018.
Hayward was as efficient as they come. He was one of the best, if not the best, playmakers on the team while being able to spread the floor and hold his own on the defensive end. There were a lot of little things that Hayward did so well to make the team better. No matter which way you look at it, losing Hayward not only sucks, but it makes the team worse.
When I first got the news that Gordon Hayward was signing with Charlotte, I was pretty annoyed. Throughout his three years in Boston, I did nothing but defend Hayward against people they would say he sucked or needed to be traded. For him to walk away for nothing felt like a punch in the gut.
I never wanted Hayward to leave, but unfortunately, Hayward’s time in Boston was up. Instead of helping out the team that gave him multiple chances and the opportunity to reinvent himself, he kind of screwed the Celtics over. Danny Ainge may have been toying with Indiana for too long by asking for more than he should’ve in a sign-and-trade, but Hayward still walked away from the team that could’ve given up on him but never did.
That’s what upsets me the most. Hayward ultimately didn’t help the Celtics get compensated for his departure. I can never judge a man for chasing the bag, but he put the Celtics in a lousy spot for doing it. Danny Ainge has and will build the team back up and find ways to replace Hayward, but it sucks he couldn’t get a head start on that.
Gordon Hayward’s time in Boston was interesting, to say the least. Besides his first two seasons, I enjoyed watching Hayward play in a Boston uniform. The Celtics and Hayward ultimately didn’t reach their goal of winning a championship together, but they were set up for failure from the very beginning.
Despite Hayward leaving Boston for nothing, I do wish him the best of luck in Charlotte. There he will become one of the top options on offense and can go back to putting up the All-Star numbers he once was. It’s a shame he couldn’t stick around and be a key part of a championship-contending team, but that’s his loss. I’ll always wish Gordon the best, but at the end of the day, if he isn’t a Celtic, he’s against us.
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