A day after eliminating the Washington Wizards in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to advance to play the Cleveland Cavaliers for a spot in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics got even more good news.
That came in the form of the No. 1 overall pick, which the team won at the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday night.
Now, armed with the No. 1 pick in this year's star-studded draft class, the Celtics are poised to add even more talent to their roster.
But, in addition to the top pick, the Celtics and general manager Danny Ainge will also have some salary cap room to work with on the free-agent market. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, they'll heavily target one particular player this offseason:
"Boston is really focused on trying to get Gordon Hayward from Utah in free agency," Woj says. "So why trade assets to get Jimmy Butler when you think you might have a chance at Hayward in the summer where they have the cap space to sign him in and you don't have to trade anything? Boston could possibly know closer to the draft where they stand with Gordon Hayward."
Hayward played for Boston coach Brad Stevens when Stevens was the coach at Butler, so the two are familiar with each other. That could work in the Celtics' favor this offseason, as Stevens and Hayward led Butler to an appearance in the NCAA title game during their time together.
Woj isn't the only reporter at The Vertical who thinks Hayward could head east this offseason. Chris Mannix told CSNNE.com that he also thinks the Utah star will be in Boston next season:
“The next step for this team, that’s got to be Gordon Hayward,” Mannix said on CSNNE’s “Celtics Pregame Live.” “That is a guy who can help this team immediately. And that’s a guy I believe is Boston’s No. 1 target this summer.”
For a team that needs other scoring options to pair with star point guard Isaiah Thomas, an offseason in which they net Hayward and possibly Washington's Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick would set the Celtics up for success well into the future.
Hayward might be inclined to leave Utah this offseason, though he doesn't have to opt out of his contract if he doesn't want to, because the Jazz decided not to sign him to a max extension a few years ago.
If that decision becomes the deciding factor in Hayward's free-agency choice, the Jazz will have only themselves to blame.