Trevor Booker spent two seasons in Utah, both alongside Gordon Hayward as he was ascending on a rapidly rising Jazz in the West. Booker, now with Brooklyn, had perhaps the most harsh comments about Hayward this weekend after he picked the Celtics as his free agent destination, telling the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Gordon’s a guy who doesn’t really want to be the man,” Brooklyn Nets forward and former Jazzman Trevor Booker told The Tribune. “… I’m not sure he wanted a franchise on his shoulders. Gordon’s a great player, and one of the best players in the league. But I wasn’t really surprised at his choice. I heard the rumors.”
Booker took an interesting angle, but is it believable? In Utah, if Hayward won 55 games next year, and for the next 4-5 years, even if they never overtook the Warriors in the West, he’d still be a hero to the city. He’s make the Mount Rushmore of Utah Jazz players up there with John Stockton and Karl Malone.
But in Boston, the pressure will be on. After Danny Ainge passed on Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and then elected not to draft Markelle Fultz, the pressure is on Hayward in Boston. He’s the focal point, the guy who Boston hopes will vault them from being a 53-win team that is a bridesmaid to LeBron and the Cavs, and into the Finals.
If the Celtics come up empty in the playoffs, nobody’s going to blame Isaiah Thomas, who has exceeded all of his NBA expectations. But Hayward? Look out.