BOSTON (CBS) — Gordon Hayward has 34.1 million reasons to pick up his player option with the Celtics, but the forward reportedly wants out of Boston if he can find the right deal elsewhere.
Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Ryen Russillo said he’s heard that Hayward does want to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics. But he’ll only walk away from that $34.1 million payday for the 2020-21 season if he knows there is a better deal out there for him.
Whether any team is willing to hand Hayward a big-money deal remains to be seen, but Russilo says it could come from a team looking to bust out of the NBA’s basement.
“I heard Gordon Hayward does want out, but I don’t know if he’s going to get the money He’s not opting out of that huge number unless he knows he’s getting the deal,” Russillo said Wednesday. “That could be an Atlanta solution even though it doesn’t make a ton of sense. But I could also understand Atlanta saying, ‘Hey, whatever, we didn’t have to give up anything. We used all this cap space. We’ll figure out which young players we want to play.’ But does Gordon Hayward not like the current situation in Boston enough to then want to go ahead and play with Trae Young and watch him shoot a million times? I don’t know.”
We’ve heard a lot about Hayward wanting to join his hometown Indiana Pacers, but the Atlanta Hawks is a new one. But for a team that is looking to compete now with its solid young core, Hayward’s do-everything game would certainly help get the Hawks into the playoff conversation.
This could also be Hayward putting some pressure on the Celtics to work out a long-term deal with him. There have been rumblings that he could opt out in order to sign another 3-4-year contract with the Celtics. But Celtics fans will be weary of such rumors, given that they heard the same thing about Al Horford last offseason, only to have the big man opt out and sign a big contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
And it’s entirely possible that Hayward does want off the Celtics, now that it’s clear that he’s the fourth option behind Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker. Hayward is still an integral part of Boston’s success, but maybe he wants an even bigger role elsewhere.
If he does want out of Boston, now would probably be the best time for Hayward. He’d be one of the top names available on the open market this fall, a luxury he won’t enjoy if he hits free agency next offseason. It’s also likely that teams won’t have as much cash to throw around next summer, should the league play a shortened 2020-21 season.
There are still no dates set for when NBA free agency will get underway, but we should have a clear view on Hayward’s intentions sometime in the next few weeks.