BOSTON (CBS) — Gordon Hayward is no longer a member of the Boston Celtics, after he bolted via free agency when the Charlotte Hornets gave him a four-year, $120 million contract.
Losing Hayward is a big blow to the Celtics, especially since they lost a core player for nothing. But the blow was softened a bit because there was no way the Celtics would commit that much money and that many years to a 30-year-old who has battled injuries the last three years.
As it turns out, the Celtics seemed open to giving Hayward another big-money extension. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, both Boston and the Indiana Pacers (whom the C’s were reportedly in sign-and-trade talks with before Hayward signed with Charlotte) were willing to give Hayward contracts north of $100 million.
“You want to clown the contract? That’s fine. Just know it’s not like the Pacers and the Celtics were offering $80 million. They weren’t offering $120 million, but my best intel is something like $105 million, $108 million, $102 million, $110 million,” he said on the latest edition of The Lowe Post. “It’s not like the delta was so huge.”
The Pacers are over the cap, so they would have had to work out a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, sending a player or two back to Boston in order to sign Hayward to that pricey deal. That would have been one expensive commitment to bring Hayward home to Indiana.
And Celtics fans, though bummed that Hayward won’t be on the team in 2020-21, have to feel a tad bit relieved that the Celtics didn’t pony up and lock Hayward in for four more years at more than $25 million annually.
Hayward’s deal with the Hornets is one of the most criticized signings from the first weekend of NBA free agency. But as it turns out, the Celtics and the Pacers could just as easily be the ones getting crushed over signing Hayward to a massive contract.