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Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Says It Was ‘Probably Smarter’ To Head To Eastern Conference

The biggest free agent signing of the summer was forward Gordon Hayward deciding to leave the Utah Jazz in favor of the Eastern Conference heavyweight Boston Celtics. Hayward was being courted by numerous teams with the Jazz competing with the Miami Heat and Celtics as the only teams that he’d consider leaving Utah for in free agency.

Ultimately, Hayward chose to sign with the Celtics and many believed he would if he elected to leave the Jazz. Hayward recently talked about the process he went through in free agency with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and how it may have been the smarter move to head to the Eastern Conference rather than staying in the loaded West, transcription via Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk:

“When we’re going through this process, and you keep seeing some of the big-name guys, and it’s like the West is loading up more and more and more. It’s not like I’m going to go East just so I don’t have to play them. Because you don’t want to run from competition at all. That’s not how I am.

“But there is a sense that it’s probably the smarter thing, as far as you’re not going to have to battle it out with all these teams just to make it to the second round, make it to the third, giving yourself a better chance against a Golden State.

“So, it definitely crosses your mind. Hundred percent.”

The Eastern Conference is basically a two-team race for the NBA Finals after an offseason in which the conference was gutted by teams in the West. Paul George and Jimmy Butler were both traded to Western Conference teams, and Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving could also be headed West before next season with both players expected to be traded as well.

Although the Celtics are currently on the heels of LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the East, the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks could also become threats as teams on the rise in the conference. After those four teams, there seems to be a massive drop off with franchises likely just battling just to reach .500 and make the playoffs.

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