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Report: Celtics have ‘real interest’ in Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, left, spins around Portland Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Portland, Ore., Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

The Boston Celtics have been linked to numerous big-name players over the last few years, and Utah Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward has been one of them. ESPN’s Zach Lowe now reports the Celtics have “real interest” in signing Hayward when he becomes a free agent next summer.

The interest makes sense. Hayward is one of the better young wings in the league, and he’d be a great addition to a Celtics roster that’s already very good. While Boston has a lot of quality young depth on the wing, the 26-year-old would add another dimension the team currently lacks in terms of shot creation and outside shooting.

Not to mention Celtics head coach Brad Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University. The duo led Butler to the NCAA Championship Game in 2010, and they fell just short against Duke after the sophomore missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

The 6-8 Butler product will almost certainly earn a max contract next summer, and the Celtics should be able to carve out the necessary cap space if needed.

However, Lowe notes that he believes Hayward will wind up re-signing with Utah. The Jazz are set to take a major step forward this season, with many even viewing them as a possible top-four team in the Western Conference. Hayward’s finger injury puts a little damper on the hype train, but Utah has the depth to withstand the absence for a bit, and he doesn’t need surgery.

Perhaps if the Jazz don’t take that step forward Hayward decides to test the free-agency waters and the Celtics can swoop in, but for now there’s a decent chance he remains in Utah for the long term.

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