The entire basketball community was shocked when the Boston Celtics traded away All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas in a package to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving earlier this summer.
Remembering the timeline of the deal, it’s important to realize that Gordon Hayward had signed with Boston before Thomas was sent packing. Therefore, could he have also been blindsided by the trade?
It appears as though he was. And it also appears that Thomas was incredibly influential in his decision-making process this summer.
Hayward revealed what his thought process was after the trade broke on his personal website.
“My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best,” Hayward wrote. “That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.”
Therefore, Thomas was one of the major reasons why Hayward chose to sign in Boston. Seeing him go was a bit awkward.
“All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him,” Hayward revealed.
Despite his connection with IT, Hayward understands the business aspect involved.
“But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan,” the All-Star wrote about Thomas. “In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be.”
Feeding off of his thoughts on the business of the league, Hayward knows what the only goal in Boston is.
“Becoming a Celtic brings a lot of history and tradition with it, I feel that responsibility," the forward penned. "One of the biggest things that was stressed from the moment we started having conversations about me potentially joining the Celtics is that there is one goal here, and that is to win a title. You can feel that from the get-go.”
Most of all, he’s ready to make a push towards title No. 18.
“…I want our fans to know that I will always give you everything I have,” Hayward explained. “We might not always be successful, but if we’re not, I promise you this: I will do whatever I can to make sure that we are successful the next time. We’re a new team, but stick with us. We know what the expectations are, and together, one day, we’ll raise that 18th banner.”
If he thinks along those lines, he will instantly become a crowd-favorite in Boston.
While Hayward seemed to be surprised at the Thomas trade just like everyone else, it seems as though he’s taking the opportunity to play with Kyrie Irving in stride and is thinking of the organization’s success while putting his personal connection with IT in the rear-view mirror.