The Celtics got their man. Gordon Hayward has agreed in principle to sign with Boston. The signing was first reported Tuesday by ESPN’s Chris Haynes. When other outlets started picking it up, word from Hayward’s camp was that no decision had been made. Several prominent NBA reporters tweeted out that nothing was official. The question is, if it wasn’t official how did Haynes get the scoop? Hayward did indeed agree to sign with Boston. Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein, via The Vertical, offered an explanation:
I think after the meeting, he thought, ‘My goodness, how can I leave this?’ On Monday night he was very much leaning toward staying in Utah, but he had just been through this whirlwind tour in three days. He woke up on Tuesday, still not really sure what he wanted to do…
That was in response to Hayward’s conversation with Utah and the recently acquired Ricky Rubio. Bartelstein continued:
He felt Miami was the spot for him. He was enamored with it. And then the next day, he was in Boston. Obviously there’s a relationship with Brad Stevens… and really the same thing happened in Boston. He was wowed by the presentation that was put together. When he left Boston, he thought for sure that was the place for him.
Makes sense right? Here is where Bartelstein is not being 100% honest. After every meeting a top free agent like Hayward takes, that team becomes the “leader in the clubhouse.” They are usually followed by tweets from we in the media like “sources say player X was blown away by team Y and is leaning heavily.” However, unless told for certain by the player, team, or agent we never say they have agreed to a deal in principle or will sign.
Hayward was definitely undecided, but following the Boston meeting he was close to certain and when Haynes reported it on Tuesday, it was agreed on in principle. The issue was, Bartelstein and Hayward wanted to control the messaging and timing of the announcement. Now Bartelstein is spinning the story with elements of truth. Ultimately no big deal but in an era where journalism and facts are being called into question, behavior like this is dangerous.