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In today’s B.S. Report, Grantland’s Bill Simmons said that believes the Celtics should and will make a run at Gordon Hayward. The entire podcast can be heard here, with the Hayward conversation beginning around the 34:10-mark.

Hayward Future

Here is the Hayward discussion between Simmons and Grantland’s Zach Lowe:

Simmons: “The Celtics made a sneaky trade over the weekend – they got rid of Courtney Lee’s contract. It’s now doable for the Celtics to make a run at somebody this summer, with a contract starting at I think – depending on where the cap is – it could be like $10 million, $11 million something like that. I think Gordon Hayward is a target for them and I don’t know if it happens next month before the deadline or it’s something where they just plan on making a giant restricted  offer and hoping Utah doesn’t match or whatever…but I think Gordon Hayward is somebody that they want.”

Lowe: “It wouldn’t surprise me, Hayward is the one restricted guy that I look at and say ‘You might be able to get this guy if you really love him, you’re confident that his sort of decline statistically this season is just because he’s on a horrible team where he has to do too much and he’s young – and you throw a huge offer at him…he’s the one guy of the restricted free agents you might be able to get.”

Simmons: “Hayward is also young, Hayward turns 24 in March and as you said not having a great season, not having a good shooting season his threes went in the tank this year he’s 31% right now, last year he was 42%. Umm, but again he’s on a terrible team, it’s not a well-coached team, I would say going from Ty Corbin to Brad Stevens would be a slight upgrade especially the way Stevens knows how to use him and I think the Celtics could construct an offer and get to, you know starting at $13 million that could probably get to like $58 million for 4 years and that puts Utah in a really interesting spot because…where-where did they – they didn’t even want to pay him what – 4 for $45 (million) as an extension? Something like that or did he want the max?”

Lowe: “I don’t think the figures ever came out, I mean th-they, umm I remember Marc Stein tweeting something that rumors that Hayward’s team demanded the same contract that Paul George got or a max-contract were not true, but I don’t know that the exact numbers ever came out and this year you know at the very least his value is sort of plateauing he’s not playing into – yet – he’s not playing himself into a massive deal.”

Simmons: “If you’re Utah would you consider trading him?”

Lowe: *deep sigh* …”I mean I’d consider anything if I were Utah.”

Simmons: “Right, but let’s say Phoenix said ‘Hey we have a lot of first-round picks, we like Gordon Hayward a lot, would you like some of our first-round picks? Then you could be reeeally bad, now you’re guaranteed – we’re taking only your kind of competent scorer other than Trey Burke off your roster.”

Lowe: “But I’ve already got two Golden State first-round picks, now maybe those aren’t going to end up being very good but one of them is in 2017 so atleast it has the possibility of being very good. I don’t know that – I might think that Utah might think the other way where, where you know ‘I’m just going to hold onto these assets and – including Hayward and try to see maybe down the line if there’s a superstar or a star that becomes available but…it’s hard when you’re Utah because you can’t trade for a superstar that has one or two years left on his contract because you run the risk of, you know he’s just going to go out of town.”

Simmons: “If you were the Celtics, would you say ‘Hey Utah, you know that pick we have – it’s the worst [least favorable] pick we have of Brooklyn or Atlanta – we’ll give you that pick right now for Gordon Hayward. It might get in the lottery. You can have it right now. Straight up. That would be interesting.”

Lowe: “Yeah…”

Simmons: “I think if I’m Utah I do that.”

Lowe: “If I were the Celtics I would do that in a second, I think Utah would demand more and I don’t know what the Celtics have that they’re interested in they’re a Jeff Green team and I don’t know that they are or not.”

Simmons: “Mmm I don’t know how many ‘Jeff Green teams’ there are out there at this point – I really like Gordon Hayward though and I think him and Lance [Stephenson] are the two fascinating [free agent] guys, Melo obviously is interesting and I think Chicago has to be considered – anything Carmelo conversation now Chicago has to be brought up because if they amnesty Boozer they’re on the road to having enough cap space to make him a huge offer.”

For good measure, Simmons and Lowe also briefly touched on Jeff Hornacek.

Simmons: “Phoenix is 20-12, I saw them in person last week and they just knocked my socks off how well-coached they were.”

Simmons on watching the Suns in person: “You would love it…you would have to…have a cigar afterward you would be so excited about Hornacek.”

Lowe: “Well they’re delightful on television and boy that’s the biggest mistake we’ve made in my short time at Grantland is ranking them toward the bottom of our league-pass watch-ability rankings.”

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On October 21, 2013 Marc Stein tweeted that: “Hayward has tons of fans in front offices around the league. Will draw tons of interest next July if he makes it to restricted free agency

That goes in conjuncture with what Peter Vescey tweeted on November 21, 2013: “According to a GM, the Suns will do everything possible this summer to sign Gordon Hayward to an unmatchable offer sheet.

Not counting Boston’s 2014 Draft Pick cap holds, assuming they renounce their rights on Jordan Crawford, don’t pick up Keith Bogan’s 2014-15 salary, and for now slotting Avery Bradley’s $3.2 million qualifying offer in – the Celtics will be around $48 million with 8 players – certainly possessing the wiggle-room to make one additional dump-deal and present Hayward an attractive 8-figure offer.

Although re-signing RFA Eric Bledose will eat up a large chunk of it, the Suns also project to have the cap room (although approximate figures vary due to fluctuating cap holds for 2014 draft picks they may or may not receive, along with a $6.8 million player option Channing Frye possesses).

So what do you think is Gordon Hayward’s free agency value is, and should the Jazz (or any team) meet/exceed it with the belief that a new coach and upgraded supporting cast can rebuild Hayward’s shooting efficiency – or should the Jazz preemptively trade him to get value in return if they think he’ll get an offer they won’t be willing to match?

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Jazz at Celtics 11-6-13

Final Score: Celtics 97, Jazz 87
In Zach Lowe’s Tuesday encounter with Ty Corbin, Lowe mentioned “it seemed like Derrick Favors and Kanter were coming out pretty far [defending] pick-and-rolls” in Utah’s loss to Houston last Saturday. That observation was evident in Utah’s screen-roll defense against Boston last night.

Utah’s strategy early on was clearly to have their bigs show out – in other words they’re responsible to take 2-3 steps out on the ball-handler (ideally widening his trajectory coming off the screen) until the guard has a chance to recover going over/under on the screen. They then need to recover back to their original man (the screener who likely either rolls/pops). Keep that in mind.

The Jazz’s 10-point road loss to the 0-4 Celtics was a game that took on three different lives of its own. The Jazz started strong, the Celtics then pummeled them to the point of no return, but the Jazz finished strong to make things interesting late. While the Jazz are 0-5, losing to the Celtics after trailing by 25 in the 3rd-quarter is simply unacceptable, and I’ll explain why Utah’s disastrous middle stretch of play was also easily avoidable.

Here are the 3 stretches which will be broken down individually:

1. 16-3 Jazz in the first 5 minutes.
2. 67-29 Celtics in next 25 minutes.
3. 42-27 Jazz in final 18 minutes.

1. Jazz: 16 Celtics: 3

Jazz Offense: The Jazz began the game with good precision and ball/player movement.

-10:25 1st-Qtr – Utah’s first basket via their halfcourt offense came when reversing ball and running Hayward off a curl (w/Favors screening) where he caught the ball on the move, drew 3 defenders and dished to an open Favors for a layup. Hayward got a step on his man by the quick ball-reversal and subsequent screen which allowed him to catch the ball at the left-elbow 17-feet from the basket.

-9:45 1st-Qtr – Celtics forced side-screen roll between Tinsley&Kanter baseline, resulting in Kanter stepping back for an 18-foot jumper.

-7:37 1st-Qtr – Hayward made a similar curl, this time off a stagger-screen where he caught the ball at 18-feet on the left-wing, drove middle to collapse the defense then dished to the screener (Kanter) for an open layup.

-6:48 1st-Qtr – With smaller guards defending him, Hayward was able to post out of horns, with Favors feeding him from the high-post and Hayward turning deep post-position into a 12-foot stepback jumper.

Jazz Defense: Utah’s halfcourt defense also had early success.

-9:31 1st-Qtr – Favors showed out on screen-roll and then deflected the pass while recovering to his man (Bass – who had an open jumpshot).

-9:18 1st-Qtr – Jeff Green drove baseline on Richard Jefferson, but Kanter rotated from the weakside to force Green to take a pull-up floater. Even battling 1-on-2, Favors pulled down the rebound and with 3 Celtics in the paint, Utah was able to fastbreak that Hayward finished with a dunk.

-Three times Vitor Faverani screwed up the Celtics’ high screen-roll in the 1st-qtr. Twice he rolled, got the ball and missed challenged but point-blank shots at the rim and the third time he was blocked by Favors (on a play the Celtics had a wide-open shooter on the weakside).

-Favors had 7 defensive rebs in the 1st-Qtr and on his boards he looked to outlet quickly which got the Jazz some early offense.

2. Celtics: 67 Jazz: 29

Jazz Offense: Utah’s offense completely fell apart in the 2nd-qtr, shooting just 4-17 with 7 turnovers.

Halfcourt Execution:
-5:48 1st-Qtr – Celtics again forced screen-roll baseline this time with Tinsley&Gobert. Gobert (not a shooter) dove to the basket but Celtics collapsed down. Utah needed a strongside shooter to space the floor and with no one there Tinsley was forced to drive into help and had his shot blocked from behind.
-11:39 2nd-Qtr – Side screen-roll where Burks was able to drive middle but Jazz were a mess on the weakside and poor floor-spacing resulted in Burks getting knocked off balance on penetration and throwing the ball out-of-bounds.

Missing Makeable Shots:
-10:04 2nd-Qtr – Another side screen-roll got Lucas open 10-footer in the lane but he missed.
-7:46 2nd-Qtr – Favors drew help on a post-up but Mike Harris missed a open foul line jumper.
-10:48 3rd-Qtr – Utah executed a high screen-roll with Favors sucking in defense on roll and Tinsley hitting Jefferson at top of key for an open three but RJ missed.
Not enough execution and when Utah did – they couldn’t convert, and off Utah’s misses the Celtics were able to push the tempo and got some great looks in transition before Utah’s defense could set up.

Bizarre Turnovers:
-0:56 1st-Qtr – On a fastbreak Lucas veered off and tried to run up Olynyk’s back where Phil Pressey came from behind and picked him clean.
-7:24 2nd-Qtr – In transition Burks passed between two Jazz players out of bounds.
-3:34 2nd-Qtr – Utah was called for an in-bound turnover where Favors bobbled the ball before passing in to Tinsley.

Jazz Defense: The game began to change when both coaches went to their bench. At 5:56 1st-Qtr Brad Stevens subbed out Vitor Faverani – who’s in ability to convert was killing Boston’s screen-roll.

-5:56 1st-Qtr – Jeff Green and1 layup. Side screen-roll, where Richard Jefferson gave Green the baseline drive like he thought he was funneling Green into a big but Favors was playing up on the screener. Gobert arrived too late and fouled Green who scored anyway. Jefferson and Favors both talked to one another after the play.

-2:15 1st-Qtr – The Celtics vaunted high screen-roll between Phil Pressey and Jared Sullinger began to pick apart Utah’s defense. Kanter (guarding Sullinger the screener) aggressively showed out, forcing Favors to pick up Sully rolling to rim. Pressey swung the ball to Favors’ man (Olynyk on the weakside) which forced Hayward to rotate – and Olynyk simply swung the ball to Hayward’s man in the corner (Wallace) for a wide-open three to pull Boston within 6.

-1:12 1st-Qtr – Kanter again showed out hard on Pressey 25-feet from the basket – giving Sullinger a wide-open jumpshot that he missed this time. This became a pattern, and at 0:23 1st-Qtr Gobert showing out resulted in another 3pt that Wallace knocked down.

Again, Kanter and Gobert aren’t players with the lateral quickness or footspeed to show out and then race back 20 feet. All the Jazz were doing was taking them out of the play and putting the rest of the team in a 4-on-3 disadvantage.

-5:25 2nd-Qtr – Undersized PF Mike Harris showed he could defend the screen-roll effectively in this manner – with a near-steal showing out hard on Avery Bradley.

-2:36 2nd-Qtr – Kanter was back in defending screen-roll, and more of the norm with Boston swining the ball to Avery Bradley for an open 20-footer off Utah’s scramble rotation.

-11:12 3rd-Qtr – Favors showed out on Jordan Crawford (Jordan freakin Crawford!) 24-feet from the rim, then had to race back to the basket but arrived too late to prevent Olynyk from simply rolling down the lane for a layup.

Utah’s play deteriorated to the point that conversations like this by Jazz announcers Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring became welcomed distractions for viewers:
Boler: “Courtney Lee comes in and Green comes out. (4 seconds of silence). What a name to have in Boston…Green.”
Harpring: “That was deep Boler. Please tell me you didn’t sit in your hotel room and think about that one.”
Boler: “That one just came to me.”

3. Jazz: 42 Celtics: 27

Jazz Defense: 2:58 & 2:30 3rd-Qtr – Boston scored on 2 consecutive screen-roll possessions where they picked apart their 4-on-3 numbers advantage with a Sullinger layup and a Courtney Lee corner-three.

Trailing 79-55 with 2:24 left in the quarter, the Jazz took a timeout.
On their very next defensive possession Utah changed their pick&roll defense. This time, they opted to stop the drive and go over. Here, the big defending the screener sags off and defends the paint while the guard/wing goes over the screen and trails the ball-handler from behind.

In this situation, the big is back in the lane and still in position to play the drive as well as pick up the screener rolling to the rim. Instead of 4-on-3, it became more of a 2-on-2 game with Utah daring the ball-handler to take a quick mid-range shot off the bounce. A John Stockton, Chris Paul or even a James Harden can counter this and it isn’t effective against side screen-roll. Against Boston’s mediocre playmakers in the middle of the floor? This worked very well to Utah’s advantage.

Jazz Offense: The Jazz got back to their own screen-roll with Hayward looking to attack. Utah’s offensive production increased but I’m not sure their execution did. Of Utah’s 12 4th-qtr baskets, 4 were low percentage long-2’s that were contested, 3 were offensive rebound putbacks and 1 was off a fastbreak. A few brilliant plays – like Hayward’s baseline drive and feed to Kanter for a hammer dunk but the Celtics did some very foolish things to allow Utah points (for example at 7:48 4th-Qtr they overhelped on Mike Harris in pick&roll leaving Kanter open underneath the basket for a layup).

Regardless, in the 4th-qtr the Jazz shot 12-24 with 16 of their 25 points coming in the paint. That’s closer to a winning formula for this team.

The Final Word

Overall it was a dreadful performance by the Jazz but Utah’s start and finish partially demonstrate the effect of competent pick&roll defense. While I wish Ty would have adjusted Utah’s screen-roll defense sooner (like at halftime), fortunately he did and that helped Utah get back in the game.

That also answered some of Zach Lowe’s questions: Yes the Jazz do often have their bigs defend the pick&roll far away from the rim and yes they are capable of making adjustments when facing circumstances such as a 25-point deficit to an 0-4 team.

The Celtics’ roster is dreadful, yet they beat the Jazz by double-figures. Furthermore, looking at the talent-level of the Magic (who beat the Clippers) and Suns (who last night took the Spurs down to the wire in San Antonio) makes one thing clear. You can be competitive and win games with mediocre talent – but you must have sound strategy and execution.

Ty Corbin has been fairly decent at handling in-game adjustments and lineups this season, but for the Jazz to win games he needs to be good. Waiting 10-minutes too long to make adjustments will lose this team games, even against opponents who have less talent than the Jazz. Whether that’s completely fair to Utah’s 4th-year coach or not – it’s the nature of the business. As Corbin says quite often, it is what it is and nobody’s going to feel sorry for him.

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Rajon Rondo - 2006 NBA Draft Pick - #21

In what would prove to be a very weak class – the Boston Celtics made the steal of the 2006 Draft – trading for Rajon Rondo in a deal in which they acquired Rondo’s rights as the 21st pick for the simple cost of paying the final $1.9 million of Brian Grant’s contract and a late-2007 1st-round pick (owed to them from the Cavs).

Despite being the highest-rated point guard (and the first one off the board), Rondo fell all the way to #21 due to many valid concerns over his shooting ability (or lack thereof). Rondo dropped because that weakness over-shadowed his strengths, which essentially included everything needed to be a star point guard in the NBA – minus the perimeter shooting.

Fast-forward 7 years, and Rondo is a 4-time All-Star with 2 NBA Finals appearances and 18 career triple-doubles. He’s had a triple-double in the NBA Finals, and a 40-point 10-assist game in the conference finals. Although he has improved his shooting to the point teams have to respect his mid-range jumper, for the most part Rondo has done this despite still being a below-average shooter. In his 4 all-star seasons, Rondo has posted shooting percentages outside 15-feet of 29.8%, 38.7%, and 35.1% before improving it to 44.1% in the first-half of the 2012-13 season in which he would miss the final 44 games with a torn acl. While it certainly helps to play alongside the likes of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett – Rondo had definitely become a top-tier point guard and one of the most unique talents in the league. This was a pick and transaction the Boston Celtics would re-do ten times out of ten.

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Rondo was a freak athlete who could penetrate, rebound, and play defense yet the fears over his perimeter shot dropped him to the 21st pick. This exhibits many of the keys to finding steals in the bottom-half of the first-round. Too often – solid prospects who are really good in several areas are downgraded because of a single shortcoming. Roy Hibbert fell to the 18th pick because he was considered too slow despite being a 7-2 shotblocker with good hands. David West fell to the 18th pick because he was labeled as an “undersized PF” despite his offensive polish, physicality, and rebounding ability.

In the mid-to-late 1st-round you’re obviously getting nowhere near as clean a prospect as you are at the top of the draft. The warts and limitations are much more noticeable and the tantalizing potential not nearly as high. Great drafting teams are able to identify the players in whom they envision possess enough strengths to overcome their weakness, and who have the character and desire to improve in the areas they are lacking. The Spurs loved Kahwi Leonard’s potential as a physical defensive wing and didn’t allow his shaky perimeter game to scare them off because they felt his shot could be re-worked and significantly improved. The Nuggets didn’t allow Kenneth Faried’s lack of ideal height and skill to overshadow the vision that his athleticism and motor would be a perfect fit in their high-tempo style.

So like every year, in the 2013 NBA Draft there will be prospects available in the bottom-half of the first-round who scouts and experts will say can’t do x or y. And like every year, several of them will still find a team that isn’t settling for them but rather targeting them because they envision them becoming an above-average player.

Somewhere beyond #14 on Chad Ford’s Top 100, there is a player who in 2018 fans will be saying “Man, I can’t believe we didn’t pick him!” And then there will be one team feeling like they robbed their annoying neighbor’s house and got away with it. Such is the nature of draft night steals.

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