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Free agent Gordon Hayward agrees to deal with Celtics

By The Sports Xchange
July 04. 2017 9:48PM
The Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris defends against the Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward in the first half of an October 2015 game at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

The Boston Celtics wound up the winners in the chase for All-Star forward Gordon Hayward.

Calling it a "life-changing decision," Hayward said on Tuesday he would sign with the Boston Celtics, announcing his decision in an article on The Players' Tribune.

Multiple media outlets reported that Hayward would sign a four-year contract worth $128 million to be reunited with Boston's Brad Stevens, who coached him when he starred at Butler University.

Hayward, 27, chose the Celtics over the Miami Heat and Utah Jazz, the team with which he played his first seven seasons since he was drafted No. 9 overall in 2010.

"This has been the toughest decision that I've ever had to make in my life," Hayward wrote in his article that was titled, "Thank You, Utah."

Hayward averaged a career-best 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds to go along with 3.5 assists last season for the Jazz, who made their first playoff appearance since 2012.

The 6-foot-8, 226-pound Hayward explained how he agonized over his decision while trying to choose between the three teams.

"My meetings with all three teams during this process -- Miami, Boston and Utah -- were just unbelievable. They couldn't have been more impressive," Hayward wrote. "Each meeting left me convinced that the team I'd just met with was the right fit. And even after I slept on it last night, while I was leaning heavily in one direction ... I still wasn't 100-percent convinced about what I wanted to do."

Hayward joins a Celtics squad that posted an Eastern Conference-leading 53-29 record last season, although they lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the conference finals.

Boston added a top talent in rookie forward Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick in last month's NBA Draft, although it will likely have to pare some players from the roster to fit Hayward's salary under the cap.

Hayward played at least 72 games in six of his seven seasons and owns a career scoring average of 15.7 points. He has averaged more than 19 points per game in each of the past three seasons.

While acknowledging the process of free agency and leaving Utah was not easy of the Jazz fans, Hayward offered a simple assessment of his tenure in Salt Lake City.

"First, though, if you don't mind, I would really like to just take a moment and express how much these last seven years in Utah have meant to me," he wrote. "Because there's only one fair way to say it: They've meant everything."