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Friday, May 20, 2022
<p>Gordon Hayward surveys the court during a Utah Jazz game in the 2016-17 NBA season. Hayward recently agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Boston Celtics.</p>

Gordon Hayward surveys the court during a Utah Jazz game in the 2016-17 NBA season. Hayward recently agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Boston Celtics.

July Fourth.

A time where you get together with friends and family to watch fireworks, drink a lot of beer (like a true American), watch Joey Chestnut stuff his face with a ton of hot dogs and celebrate our patriotic uprising against Great Britain.

It’s also the time where if you are a hot commodity on the free agency market in the NBA, you make a huge announcement regarding your future.

Last year, it was Kevin Durant and his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors. The year before that, LaMarcus Aldridge went to the Spurs.

This year, it was Gordon Hayward. And this time, the team was the Celtics.

Both sides have agreed to a four-year, $128 million deal that will see Hayward wearing green and white next season.

The Former Butler Bulldog will add a lot to Boston both as a high-caliber scorer and veteran teammate. Going from a slow-paced Jazz team to a Celtics squad known for its transition offense, Hayward should thrive in his new home.

But when it's all said and done, Boston still won’t be able to surpass Cleveland when it counts. Maybe instead of the Celtics beating the Cavaliers once in the Eastern Conference Finals, they'll beat them twice. Or possibly even three times. But that's it.

Cleveland returns most of its key players, including the big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Not only that, but James is coming off an incredible NBA Finals performance where, despite coming up short, he averaged a triple double.

The Cavs also hold a lot of experience, with most players on their roster well into their 30s.

The Celtics, on the other hand, are still a very young team. Former Gator Al Horford and All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas are the only players currently under contract above the age of 26.

Horford and Thomas still have a long way to go before they can help lead Boston to an NBA Finals appearance, but in a few years, it could happen. The team recently took one-and-done freshman Jayson Tatum in last month's NBA Draft, and it has the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick in 2018, too.

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However, as of right now, the Celtics stand no chance against the Cavaliers, even with the addition of Hayward.

Landing the forward in free agency is a huge step in the right direction, but it'll take a lot more than one signing to compete with King James and his army of talent out in Cleveland. 

Jake Dreilinger is assistant sports editor of the Alligator. His column appears frequently on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.

Gordon Hayward surveys the court during a Utah Jazz game in the 2016-17 NBA season. Hayward recently agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Boston Celtics.

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