BOSTON — Gordon Hayward’s free-agent visit to Boston featured an airport pickup from coach Brad Stevens, a stop at Fenway Park, time with All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas and a basketball-centric pitch about why the Celtics are the best fit for Hayward’s future.
Hayward and his wife, Robyn, spent a little less than 24 hours in Boston after arriving Saturday night following a visit with the Miami Heat.
The Deseret News reported that Hayward is expected to fly to San Diego to meet with key members of the Utah Jazz organization on Monday.
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The Celtics took Hayward to Fenway Park on Sunday morning, where the Jumbotron beyond the center-field bleachers read, “Welcome to Boston Gordon & Robyn,” with shamrocks on each side. With president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, assistant general manager Mike Zarren and Thomas all on the field, the team aired a three-minute video designed to emphasize the experience of playing in Boston.
Interspliced among highlights of this year’s Celtics team were glimpses of Boston’s history, including shots of Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and Boston’s most recent Big Three era featuring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (whose No. 20 jersey Hayward could eventually wear). At the end of the video, Red Sox legend David Ortiz delivered a message to Hayward.
The video also included clips of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant talking about the atmosphere in Boston. Hayward heard noticeable cheers when the Jazz visited TD Garden last season, though supporting an opponent didn’t sit well with Boston’s Jae Crowder.
Although images of Boston’s Fenway presentation landed on social media, as those in the area captured snippets from outside the stadium, Boston’s basketball-centric pitch stayed behind closed doors. Stevens was expected to lead a film session with the goal of showcasing how the team would utilize Hayward on the floor.
The Celtics also planned to stress how the team is set up for sustained success with young talent and future draft picks that will allow the team to be competitive now and deep into the future.
As Thomas, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside engaged in an emoji war on Saturday night, social media lit up when an image of Stevens greeting the Haywards at Boston’s Logan Airport landed on Twitter. Snapshots appeared to show Stevens and assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry, who also coached Hayward during his two seasons at Butler University, walking through the airport with the Haywards.
A Celtics fan base that desperately yearns for more impact talent, particularly after watching Jimmy Butler and Paul George move to the Western Conference for underwhelming returns, is hopeful that Hayward will join a team that won 53 games last season and advanced to the conference finals before falling to the Cavaliers in five games.
The Celtics would need to make some roster moves to clear the necessary cap space to sign Hayward to a potential four-year, $127 million max contract. The team cleared $8 million from its books by waiving center Tyler Zeller before his contract became fully guaranteed on Sunday.
Celtics brass are expected to travel to Utah soon to watch Boston’s summer entry while awaiting Hayward’s decision.