Sources: The Celtics are the favorites to land Gordon Hayward

According to Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, and the Boston Celtics are currently the favorites to snag Gordon Hayward this offseason:

I'll be honest, I've never heard of Schultz until recently. He's the same guy who's "sources" within the Lakers' camp said that they were not quite sold on Lonzo Ball a couple of weeks ago.

Schultz cites Brad Stevens as a major factor, something that makes a lot of sense given Hayward's rise to stardom began under coach Brad back at Butler and the two have expressed nothing but love for one another since. While the Utah Jazz are at about the same level as the Celtics in terms of contending as their rosters currently sit, the future in Boston is without a doubt brighter than that in Salt Lake City with or without Hayward.

With the top pick in the upcoming draft, another likely top 5 pick next season via Brooklyn, and a pair of players stashed overseas that have both vaulted to be considered in the top 7 players selected from last year's draft class the Celtics have a TON of talent to infuse in the coming years. Not to mention the road to the NBA finals through the Eastern Conference is much, much easier than that out West. An addition of Hayward along with Markelle Fultz through the draft would put a Celtics roster as the far an away 2nd best team in the conference and certainly good enough to compete with (if not beat) Cleveland in a 7 game series.

The Celtics have the wiggle room to offer a max-deal to a free agent this offseason and with Hayward being the best available he's obviously a no-brainer for them, but interesting as well is that a 4-year max-level deal for Hayward would be coming off the books at the same time as Fultz would be coming off a 4-year rookie deal. That's the same situation as Al Horford and Jaylen Brown in three years, and should the Celtics offer Isaiah Thomas a big contract after next season the same thing could line up with that deal and whatever young talent the C's can score at the top of next year's draft.

It's actually pretty remarkable how the Celtics should be able to put a contending team on the floor over the next several years and yet it's essentially a bridge to this young crop of potential stars as well.

Photo credit - Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

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