clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2020 NBA Free Agency: Gordon Hayward is still good, but he’s a risk

New, comments

The Boston forward has struggled with injuries the last two seasons, but he offers an intriguing fit if the Mavericks are convinced he can help.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Gordon Hayward is not a free agent. Well, not yet anyway. Hayward has a very large final year in his contract with the Boston Celtics he could opt into as soon as next week. However, with the NBA financial future as cloudy as it is right now, there’s enough reason to think he could opt out to sign a deal with some security for the coming seasons or opt in and get moved by Boston anyway.

There’s a lot up in the air with Hayward yet he fills many of the gaps the Mavericks have, so here we are.

The Basics

Large adult man Gordon Hayward is a 6’7, 225 pound small forward that will be 31-years-old by the middle of the upcoming season. After starting his career in Utah, he signed with the Boston Celtics in 2017 where in his first game he suffered a horrendous ankle injury that also fractured part of his leg.

Though he eventually recovered, Hayward’s continued to battle the injury bug with some freak injuries, including a broken hand and a high ankle sprain, each of which set him back during his time with the Celtics.

He’s played less minutes in Boston compared to Utah, affecting his per game numbers but not his overall efficiency. Last season he averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game and shot 38 percent from three.

Strengths

The overall body of work is where Hayward shines as a player. Though his individual numbers are fine, it’s how the package comes together paired with how basketball is played that makes Hayward such a compelling player to consider.

He’s large, strong, shoots well, passes well, and is very much a competent wing basketball player for a position where the talent gaps are massive between tiers. Though basketball is seemingly trending towards “small” ball, what’s really happening is it’s trending towards more skill at all positions. Hayward’s ability to handle the basketball is something which would be useful to Dallas out of the small forward position. He’s also a career 36 percent three point shooter who would certainly benefit from the kind of open looks afforded to Dorian Finney-Smith this past season.

He’s the player Dallas fans wanted Chandler Parsons to be. Simply put, he’s quietly efficient and still very good at a position where Dallas has one player at the moment.

Weaknesses

There’s no way to ignore his recent body of work, which has been inconsistent at best. Much of that can be attributed to a horrifying injury and working his way back, but it’s still a bit concerning when considering him for a team which needs more talent at the top of their rotation. The greatest ability is availability and Hayward’s had a tough road in the last two years at key moments.

Add on to that is his age. At 31, he’s at the tail end or past his prime years and while his game is so skill based that it’s unlikely he simply falls off a cliff, he’s not so good at to ignore that were he to become available for a trade or if he appeared on the free agent market. Paying a 35-year-old Gordon Hayward does not seem like something the Dallas Mavericks would be interested in.

Lastly, for a team that needs defense, he’s not helping much past being a big person. There is value in that and he’s a well rounded player, but not so much as to move the needle for Dallas defensively. Dorian Finney-Smith is better in this regard.

Fit with the Mavericks

Similar to Fred VanVleet, putting a good basketball player into a system ran by a great coach that already has a superstar player is likely to work out just fine.

Offensively, he could fill both the role of a secondary play maker as well as be another shooting threat for Luka Doncic to drive and kick to. The kind of shots available to an already efficient player like Hayward from the Maverick’s offense is fun to consider. He’s already in the 87th percentile for spot up shooting and 94th in isolation, according to NBA.com. His size would allow Rick Carlisle to get even more creative from a line up perspective as I bet Dallas would play Hayward at the two, three, or four position depending on defensive match ups.

Defensively, he’s a large body on the wing but he doesn’t bring a ton to a team in need of more defense.

Lastly, his mustache is super creepy.

Will he be a Dallas Maverick?

This largely depends on whether he opts in to his deal with Boston or opts out. If it’s the latter, in no way would the Mavericks be interested in signing him to a longer term deal. But if it’s a one year rental? It’s not impossible. He’s got too much talent, skill, and veteran savvy to ignore.

It would take a winding path for him to get to the Mavericks, likely involving giving up at least one of the role players our fanbase has grown so attached to during this rebuild process.

In the end, I’ll settle on no, Gordan Hayward won’t be a Maverick. But if a breaking news tweet crosses the timeline in the next two weeks about some interest from Dallas in him, it won’t shock me either.