SALT LAKE CITY — Accepting change and moving on is key to everyone’s health and well-being. The Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz know this all too well. They redid their 2017-18 plans on the fly, improvising like mimes.

This season’s playoffs have revealed several things. First is that Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Boston’s Brad Stevens are no slouches. They produced seriously successful teams, despite sustaining damages along the way. The biggest revelation, though, was that there are at least two teams that actually didn’t need Gordon Hayward.

Claiming a trophy might be another matter, but in terms of looking respectable and winning impressively, they’ve done splendidly.

The Jazz fan base was apoplectic when Hayward left last summer as a free agent. In turn, Boston lost him to injury in his first game as a Celtic.

Hand it to Hayward, he struck while the iron was hot, signing a four-year, $128 million contract. He’ll never have to ask for a price check on anything. But almost a year after his big decision, he has to be wondering: Was it something he said?

Both Utah and Boston continued into the season unfazed, as though he hadn’t mattered. Boston finished with the second-best record in the East. The Jazz went 29-6 over the last part of the season. In neither case does that mean they’re actually better without him, unless a team can dismiss a 22-point scorer. But they’re not suffering, either.

The pain train has left the station.

Hayward envy took on a serious tone last year after the Jazz finished the playoffs. It was the team’s first postseason appearance in four years. The Jazz were set for their future, if only they could get Hayward to stay. Over the years, he had professed love for the fans and playing for Snyder, but he never actually said he wanted to stay. That’s the opposite of this summer’s unrestricted free agent, Derrick Favors.

It was fitting that on Independence Day, Hayward celebrated his independence by signing with Boston.

So the Jazz went to work. They had already added Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell and later executed a multi-team trade that sent Rodney Hood to Cleveland and brought in Jae Crowder. They molded Royce O’Neale into a valuable reserve and nursed Dante Exum out of the training room. Joe Ingles upped his overall game and Rudy Gobert, after an early-season injury, got seriously defensive.

Concurrently, Boston already had assembled what looked like a …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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Brad Rock: Jazz, Celtics managed just fine without Gordon Hayward

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