BOSTON – There were lots of factors that played a role in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving winding up as Boston Celtics.
But money, at least on their part, wasn’t among them.
In fact, both players left significant sums of money on the table to become Boston Celtics, a point that is not lost on Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations.
“Kyrie walked away from a huge trade kicker and could have demanded, easily,” Ainge said in an exclusive interview following the press conference introducing Hayward and Irving. “He was so excited to come to Boston, he was willing to do that in a second.”
Irving’s contract has three years remaining with the third year a player option, and is worth as much as $60.2 million with the first two years worth $38.9 million.
His deal includes a 15 percent trade kicker which is applicable to the first two of the three years left on his deal, because option years – the third year in his deal - are not included in trade kickers.
Hayward was an unrestricted free agent this summer, choosing to sign a four-year, $127.8 million deal with the Celtics rather than re-sign with the Jazz who were willing to pay him a max-salary that would have provided him with an additional year on his contract and $44.5 million in salary.
And had Hayward been named to one of the league’s all-NBA teams, he would have been eligible for the NBA’s designated player exception which could have potentially provided him a salary similar to the four-year, $170 million extension Washington’s John Wall agreed to this summer.
While Hayward acknowledged it was a significant difference salary-wise, “for me it wouldn’t have mattered,” he said. “I still turned down a whole lot ($44-plus million to stay in Utah). That’s still a significant amount of money as well.
Hayward added, “for me it was about winning and competing for a title. That’s what I wanted to do. I don’t think it would have mattered.”
Said Ainge: “Both of those guys made huge, huge sacrifices. To ask them to do more would be risky on our part. They were doing what I thought was fair game and very grateful that both of them chose to come here and make those sacrifices.”