The Boston Celtics are set to add another small forward to a roster that already includes starter Jae Crowder and emerging Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick a year ago.
Whether that player is Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum or even Jimmy Butler, who could be Danny Ainge’s end game, stockpiling more picks to throw at the Bulls for the All-Star forward, Boston will be deep at the position.
How does this relate to the Miami Heat?
If Gordon Hayward leaves Utah, Boston appears to be the Heat’s biggest competition for the 6-foot-8 small forward. Recent reports have the Jazz just as concerned about the Heat as they are the Celtics – who are coached by Hayward’s college coach, Brad Stevens – in their attempt to retain Hayward. And you know Pat Riley is going to walk into a hotel room, probably on July 1, and throw down a sack of championship rings to start his recruiting pitch.
Riley can also say the position is wide open. Justise Winslow is the only true small forward on the Heat roster and he would make for a nice sixth man. But this is more about the Celtics, who are creating quite a logjam at the spot and now may be better served spending their free agent dollars on another position.
Boston still will make the case that with Crowder, Brown and either Jackson or Tatum, Hayward will be the unquestioned top dog at the position and the top offensive threat. Still, four small forwards is excessive. And if the Celtics are angling for Butler, why would they want to eventually be paying max money to two players who play the same position? Butler could move to shooting guard but Avery Bradley has emerged at that position.
Boston may then decide to refocus its free agency plan and target a power forward – a position of much greater need – like Blake Griffin or Paul Millsap.
Also in the Heat’s favor are reports that Hayward has concerns about playing with a ball-dominant point guard like Isaiah Thomas. In Miami, he would be teaming up with a drive-and-kick point guard in Goran Dragic and a shooting guard like Josh Richardson, whose main focus will be defense.
The Heat are in the game already when it comes to Hayward. Maybe the Celtics just opened that window a bit wider.