Elise Amendola, AP
It all started with a remark on a podcast, but the rumor that the Boston Celtics will pursue Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward has certainly spread since.
ESPN columnist and Grantland.com editor-in-chief Bill Simmons, who hasn't been one to shy from admitting his Boston sports fandom, speculated on his podcast Tuesday that the Celtics would go after the Jazz forward.
"I think Gordon Hayward is a target for (Boston) and I don't know if it happens next month before the deadline or it's something where they just plan on making a giant restricted offer and hoping Utah doesn't match or whatever, but I think Gordon Hayward is somebody that they want," Simmons said on his podcast.
The end result has been a whirlwind of speculation that the Celtics will seek to trade for Hayward, or attempt to sign him when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
As Mark Loiselle, Jr. of CLNS Radio in Boston points out, it would make sense for the Celtics to pursue the Jazz forward, especially since Hayward's college coach at Butler, Brad Stevens, is in his first year at the helm in Boston.
"Hayward brings everything to the table that any franchise would want: a relationship with a familiar coach, high basketball IQ and a great character guy," Loiselle wrote in his blog post "Bill Simmons has a thought on Utah's Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics fans should be all aboard."
"No, he is not your typical franchise-changing player, but neither was Ray Allen," Loiselle added.
Regardless of the rumors, there is no evidence that suggests the Jazz or Celtics have even discussed a deal involving Hayward.
In a Yahoo.com blog post called "NBA trade rumor: Boston Celtics want Gordon Hayward," David Shaw adds the Celtics' pursuit of Hayward won't be a slam dunk, if indeed Boston targets the forward.
"Prying (Hayward) away from the Jazz will not be an easy task and could prove costly for Boston, which would certainly have to offer a first-round pick to Utah to even begin discussions," Shaw wrote. "Utah will most assuredly tender him a qualifying offer, giving it the right to match anything he receives from another team."
Hayward's contract expires at the end of this season. He and the Jazz failed to reach an extension on his contract in late October. The fourth-year forward is currently averaging 17.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.
Interestingly enough, he scored a career-high 37 points Tuesday night in a win over Oklahoma City, just hours after Simmons began his Boston trade speculation.
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