But the Celtics were always going to need to let go of one of Bradley, Jae Crowder or Marcus Smart as soon as Hayward agreed to sign, and a closer look at each one of the candidates reveals why Bradley was always the most likely to go. On Friday, the Celtics finally made the move that allows Hayward to sign with the team.
According to The Vertical's Shams Charania, the Celtics are trading Avery Bradley to the Pistons for Marcus Morris. Morris will likely fill a void left in the frontcourt by Kelly Olynyk's departure to the Heat via free agency, as it left the Celtics rather light on reliable power forward depth.
Bradley will be a free agent next summer, but the Pistons acquired his Bird rights in the deal, which could give them a leg up in signing a player whose prime is still ahead of him. Much of the attention this offseason has centered on Jackson and big man Andre Drummond, since Detroit could use more production from that point guard-center tandem. But Bradley's arrival means fewer minutes for Caldwell-Pope, whose skill set is broadly similar.
So the Pistons have probably lost two starters to get one. and that one can be an unrestricted free agent in 12 months. He was a beacon of professionalism during the rebuilding years and pretty inarguably the best two-way player on an Eastern Conference finalist last season.
In a vacuum, adding Morris to the mix in the Bradley deal makes Crowder expendable.
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Bradley, 26, is a two-time All-Defensive team player who averaged 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds and shot 39 percent from three-point during the 2016-17 National Basketball Association season. I'm not convinced that's the case.
A league-wide-believed snub in the NBA's All-Defensive team, Bradley managed to couple his usual ball-hawking defense with his best offensive season to date, putting up career-highs across the board with 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting an impressive 39 percent from deep and 46.3 percent from the floor. And, as noted, advanced metrics haven't supported the notion that Bradley is an elite defender.
The question now is what the Celtics do with all these forwards.
The Detroit Pistons appear to have their answer at shooting guard for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Through two seasons, Johnson has been far too inefficient to fill that role, which is why he briefly ended up out of Stan Van Gundy's rotation a year ago.