Everyone loves a great underdog story. Gordon Hayward is exactly that. Whether it was barely making it to Division I basketball at Butler, leading them to a cinderella NCAA Championship game run that nobody saw coming, or becoming an NBA All-Star; Gordon Hayward has just always been the player that fans cannot help but rooting for. Hayward left Utah this summer to sign a 4 year, 128 million dollar deal with the Boston Celtics. He teamed up with his former coach at Butler Brad Stevens, but his first year in a Celtics uniform lasted about 6 total minutes when Hayward dislocated his ankle and broke his leg in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was truly one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory and I, as well millions of others, pray for a speedy and healthy recovery for Gordon. There’s one strange thing that this injury does to a team nobody is thinking about. That team is the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics in a strange way may have wrecked the Lakers chances to land LeBron James in the summer of 2018. I am not trying to pin this injury on Gordon Hayward by any means, but this injury should allow the Cavs to coast to the Finals once again. LeBron has an improved team around him as well, and the Cavs may not be done making moves to help them beat the winner of the Western Conference in the Finals (most likely Golden State). Since the Finals is in sight again this year without much contest now, it will encourage LeBron to stay home. He will believe this Cavs team is built to win still, and it will eliminate any possibility of him packing his bags for LA.
As a somewhat optimistic Lakers fan, I was really hoping the Celtics challenged the Cavs heavily and helped LeBron to decide to head to the West to form a super team in LA. Since the Cavs have almost no known contenders in their way, this should be enough for LeBron to stay. As if losing Carmelo and Paul George within your conference in the same summer were not enough for him to stay, now the Celtics will unlikely be a serious contender.
With Melo, Paul George, and Westbrook all teaming up in OKC, it is likely the Lakers will have to resign KCP and Brook Lopez if they want to salvage any decent free agents in 2018. While I still have a little optimism that 2018 could be the summer the Lakers have hoped to have for years, all of these little moves around the league continue to make the Lakers big plans unlikely.