SteemSports Presenter: @aaasports
Steemsports Editor: @ldauch
The calamity and confusion over the Celtics' draft day dealings were still looming large as the free agency period started.
Everyone knew the Celtics were targeting Gordon Hayward, but free agency had never been kind to the Celtics. Prior to Horford choosing Boston 2 years previously, their biggest signings ever were basically washed up former all-stars (Wilkins, Wallace, Shaq!), and overachieving bench players (Barros, McDaniels).
The history of the NBA had a clear opinion on the matter:
Despite Boston's 17 championships (the most in the NBA) players did not want to play there. I get it. Why go to Boston? You'll spend half your salary on a shoebox apartment and a shovel and see enough beards and flannels to feel like you accidently relocated to a logging community.
The three teams that would be involved in the rose ceremony with "The Bachelor" Hayward were the Utah Jazz, the Boston Celtics, and the Miami Heat. Hayward had the, "hey, I know that guy" connection with coach Brad Stevens, having played under him years ago at Butler University.
But would that be enough to sway him? Did he already own a shovel and have an predilection towards flannel? Utah could offer him more money, and the chance to show loyalty to a franchise, which in the sports world is rarer than a solar eclipse. Miami had...cubanos? Seriously though, cubanos are awesome, but you can't disregard the climate and culture that Miami offers. I was so nervous in the days leading up to his decision.
I was sure that the decision would come down to Utah and Boston, as Hayward's wife and kids would seem to negate the lure of Miami's big-bootied- baristas.
And the final rose goes to: The Boston Celtics. Great, we now had a BMW to park next to the Lexus and the Cadillac in our two car garage. Let me explain. Boston had spent their two previous top 5 picks on small forwards, and now with our biggest free agent signing in team history we had gotten another small forward.
Don't get me wrong, Hayward is a great player, and we will make it work, but the happiness of getting Hayward also helped refocus the frustration I felt from the draft. For me the bigger victory is that with Hayward choosing Boston, and Horford choosing Boston, a shift seems to have finally happened in the NBA where cold Boston is now considered a hot destination for free agents. That's no small feat for a city known to be covered in snow for half the year.