If Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens got along so well, why was Danny Ainge worried that their relationship could potentially hurt Boston’s odds of signing the free agent small forward?
It’s the same reason why two friends should think twice before dating unless they’re Chandler and Monica (or Ross and Rachel, for that matter; that show doesn’t work well for this analogy): They might ruin a good thing.
Speaking to reporters after announcing the signing of Hayward, Ainge was asked how he thought Stevens’ relationship with Hayward from their days at Butler would factor into Hayward’s decision. As it turned out, it worked strongly in Boston’s favor, but Ainge didn’t know what to expect.
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“I wasn’t sure,” Ainge said. “I don’t think Brad [was] sure; Brad, I’m sure, will address this himself, but my feelings were that it could be a benefit. It could hurt us, too in the fact that they had such a strong bond years ago, that you might not want to jeopardize that bond by getting into the stress and pressures of a completely different circumstance, so I didn’t know how that would go, quite honestly.”
Hayward wrote in his Players’ Tribune piece announcing his decision to sign with Boston that his “unfinished business” from not winning a national championship with Stevens at Butler played a large role in his choice. Though Ainge was worried that might not be the case, he didn’t sound surprised that Stevens would be enticing for any free agent, regardless of previous history.
“I know that Brad is a big part of why we’re able to be in the home of Al Horford and Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward these last two years,” Ainge said. “I think all three of them -- not just Gordon, but I think all three of them would tell that that is a huge reason why they’re very excited and interested in our team, is their fascination with Brad.”