With his seventh NBA season in the books, Gordon embarked on the most difficult offseason of his career. An unrestricted free agent for the first time, G-Time made plans to visit with the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz before coming to a decision. No. 20 took the meetings over the Fourth-of-July weekend and reached his decision on the fourth.
“My meetings with all three teams during this process — Miami, Boston and Utah — were just unbelievable. They couldn’t have been more impressive. Each meeting left me convinced that the team I’d just met with was the right fit,” said Gordon’s announcement in The Players Tribune. “After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics.”
The 201-18 season was to be Gordon’s first with the Boston Celtics and his longtime mentor and college coach, Brad Stevens. No. 20 found himself a part of his own Big 3 in Boston, flanked by All-Stars Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup.
“I’m excited about coming here, moving to Boston, moving my family here. I’m thrilled to get the season going,” Gordon said.
Unfortunately, injury struck in Gordon’s first game with the Boston Celtics, on the opening night of the 2017-18 NBA season. Just six minutes into the game, G suffered a devastating and gruesome injury after colliding with an opponent in mid-air on an alley-oop attempt and landing awkwardly. He was diagnosed with a fractured ankle and after multiple surgeries, missed the remainder of the season. Gordon and Irving both watched from the sidelines as his new team reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.
“[Kyrie and I] texted, we watched the games sitting right next to each other on the sideline,” Hayward said. “It’s one of the hardest things I believe you can do as an athlete: be injured and having to watch your team play; especially for me, because I chose to leave [the Jazz] and come play for the Celtics, then only to watch the Celtics play all year. It was extremely difficult.”
However, what was difficult to watch for Gordon had an unexpected payoff for Boston, their young talent gaining valuable experience in the postseason. That left Gordon confident ahead of the 2018-19 season and ready to lead the Celtics on another deep playoff run.
“The East is still going to be a tough conference; I think a lot of people are writing the East off,” he said. “There were some surprises last year in the East, and there are still going to be teams that have young talent that gained a lot of experience last year that will be tough matchups for us. That said, I’m confident that we’ve got everything we need to make the run at the whole thing.”
Gordon made his highly anticipated return from the devastating ankle injury on opening night, October 16, 2018, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Thrilled to be back on the court, G-Time contributed to a convincing 18-point win to start the new season with 10 points, five rebounds and four steals in the game.
Obviously, after so much time off, Gordon expected it to take some time to return to his All-Star level of play, especially as he still learned the strengths and tendencies of his new teammates. As the season progressed, Gordon began to find himself more each game, just as the Celtics found a rhythm as a unit.
On December 1, Gordon turned in a remarkable performance in Minnesota in a win over the Timberwolves. G-Time filled the stat sheet with 30 points, nine boards and eight assists, while shooting 4-5 from three and knocking down all 10 of his free throws.
As 2019 began, Gordon had found his stride with Boston’s second unit, often leading the charge off the bench as the Celtics fought for playoff positioning. In early January, the Celtics matched up with Minnesota again, and they still couldn’t find a way to stop G-Time, who dropped a season-high 35 points on the Timberwolves.
In the second half of the season, Gordon began to find his spot in the lineup and was routinely scoring in double figures. In 2019, when playing 30 minutes or more, Gordon averaged 15.7 points per game. In his final eight games of the regular season, G-Time scored in double figures in each one to help earn the Celtics the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
Boston swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and Gordon dropped 20 points in Game 4 to help close out the series.
In the next round, however, Boston was unable to upset the No. 1 seed, the Milwaukee Bucks, who were led by league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Although the season didn’t end the way Gordon or the Celtics had hoped, there is still so much in front of this team and Gordon when looking ahead to the future. Gordon’s play in the 2018-19 season earned him the NBPA Comeback Player of the Year award. Going into the 2019-20 season with a full season under his belt since his injury, Gordon knew exactly what he was capable of doing on the floor.
The offseason saw plenty of change to Boston’s roster, but with Gordon now paired with point guard Kemba Walker, and young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown hitting their stride, a talented Celtics’ roster has its sights sets on reclaiming the Eastern Conference and capturing the franchise’s 18th championship banner.