For Hayward, his time with the Boston Celtics was the most trying years of his career. One year removed from the season-ending ankle injury in his first game with the franchise that inked him to a four-year, $128 million deal meant the bulk of the following season would be spent rebuilding his ankle, along with his overall strength and conditioning and the graduality that came with it showed in his averages.
Hayward averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 72 games throughout 2018-19; a significant dip in the All-Star scoring numbers he averaged in his last season with the Utah Jazz – 21.9 points, 3.5 assists. And in the meantime, two stars in the making in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were grooming into franchise cornerstone players.
By the end of the year’s playoff run, which ended in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, the direction in which the Celtics were heading towards was transparent. Tatum and Brown, along with All-Star veteran Kemba Walker had leapfrogged Hayward in Brad Stevens’ pecking order.
Now, Hayward is coming into his own in his new home, surpassing the averages we saw in Utah – 23.1 points, 3.7 assists in 14 games is certainly a good place to start.
Reluctant to reprise his role, Hayward moved onto greener pastures by inking his second max-deal in three years; this time, with the Hornets, worth $120 million for four years. Gordon sat down in a recent interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick and opened up about his experience in Boston.
Gordon Hayward On His Three Years In Boston: ‘It Was Disappointing With How Everything Played Out There’
“Obviously, it was disappointing with how everything played out there,” Hayward said, via The Athletic. “A lot of it is just not under my control. I would have never imagined myself getting injured my very first year there and missing the whole year; having a serious injury. That’s obviously very disappointing. Last year, I feel like I played really well and I feel like our team was in a really good position and I get injured again — like a fluke injury — the first game of the playoffs.”
Now, Hayward wishes he didn’t return to the Celtics for what would be their last best-of-7 series of the postseason, considering how dangerous it could have been. It could have ultimately put the kibosh on any offer from the Hornets or potentially the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers; two teams Hayward says were interested in signing him during the off-season.
“I honestly shouldn’t have come back and played but tried to play through it and wasn’t able to be myself, so I don’t think we had our full team there at the end,” Hayward said via The Athletic. “So it was disappointing but not necessarily stuff that you can control. Injuries happen. Those types of things happen. But I had great experiences besides those things in Boston, built great relationships, still have good relationships with the coaches and some of the players there.
“I have no regrets about anything that happened in Boston, and I really appreciate all the fan support — for supporting me through the wild ride of ups and downs.”