Welcome to “The Indecision.”
Free agent Gordon Hayward was expected to make his decision on signing his next contract on Tuesday, which is a completely normal thing to do — he had his meetings with Miami, Boston and Utah and had a night to think things over. So when word trickled out in the afternoon that Hayward would be signing with the Celtics, there was joy in Beantown and a sense that the process had played itself out in a usual way.
But then a different word slipped out: No, Hayward had not made a decision. ESPN originally broke the Celtics’ signing of Hayward and, bizarrely, ESPN then quoted Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, saying that Gordon had made no decision. Bartelstein then told the Boston Globe the same thing, and within minutes, Hayward went from being a sure-thing Celtic to needing more time to sort through his options.
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Throw in a frowny-face emoji from Ricky Rubio, who was traded to the Jazz this weekend and was part of the team recruiting Hayward to stay on Monday, and the entire thing was a sloppy scramble with several missed layers of communication.
There was speculation that Hayward had not wanted word of his choice of Boston to leak before the Jazz were informed, and that he and his camp were trying to reel in the spread of breaking news. That’s a longshot. More likely, folks around the league speculated, the Celtics and Jazz needed time to sort out potential sign-and-trade scenarios, and if nothing along those lines could be worked out, the Celtics would have to deal away a player in order to give Hayward a max contract.
That’s how one agent guessed things were playing out on Tuesday.
“That’s a nightmare if something gets out before you’re ready to let it out,” the agent said. “And if they did not have all the details worked out about who was going to have to go where to make all of it work, that’s definitely not a time you want things to start leaking.”
So what should be a significant, though fairly standard, free-agent signing has been botched badly. Reports of Hayward going to Boston have been yanked back, and now Hayward may wait yet another day to announce his intentions. There was even speculation that Hayward could be so annoyed with the leaking of the report that he might re-think the entire decision.
That is a longshot — no matter what Hayward’s decision turns out to be, you’d have to figure that he does not let a media leak determine his future. But the fact that is a possibility shows just how far off the rails this signing has gotten.