Gordon Hayward will not opt-in the final year of his deal with the Boston Celtics, meaning he would rather take his chances in NBA free agency. Hayward passes up a huge $34.2 million deal, numbers he may not get from other teams.
However, Hayward may be thinking more of a long-term deal. The Celtics are unlikely to hand him one, especially after his stint did not turn out so well. The All-Star forward has been struggling through injuries the past seasons, something that lowered his chances of getting a good and longer deal at Bean Town.
Word of Hayward opting out comes from Shams Charania of The Athletic citing sources. Hayward will now have more flexibility to deal with other teams in the offseason.
Celtics’ Gordon Hayward has opted out of his $34M deal for the 2020-21 season and will become a free agent, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 19, 2020
Several teams have been linked to the 30-year-old player. The Indiana Pacers were mentioned as a possible landing spot, something that would be a homecoming for Hayward. The Atlanta Hawks were also frequently mentioned in the rumor mill, a move that could give Trae Young some added offensive sock.
But it appears the team bent on acquiring Hayward is the New York Knicks per Marc Stein of the New York Times. The Knicks are ready to sit down with Hayward and discuss a potential deal. It remains to be seen however if the veteran forward can get something near the $34.2 million that he passed up with the Celtics.
New York is looking for established superstars to reinforce its squad for the coming NBA season. Hayward could be a good fit although his durability is still in question. It is likely something the Knicks and other teams will look into if both sides officially start discussions.
Aside from Hayward, the player that critics are linking to New York is Russell Westbrook. The former Most Valuable Player has requested a trade from the Houston Rockets but most teams are wary of the $132 million contract that comes along with him.
New York is not that keen to spend a lot on Westbrook, aware this could limit their chance to take in more stars not just for the 2020-21 season but in the years to come.
It remains to be seen if the Knicks can get both Hayward and Westbrook to their side for the 2020-21 season. This should gain more clarity in the coming months as teams start building up their rosters for the coming NBA season.