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Sep 25, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) controls the ball against the Miami Heat during the second half in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

98.5 The Sports Hub staff report

The expectation is that Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will pick up his $34.2 million player option, which is the final year of a four-year max contract signed in 2017, for next season, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

From Bontemps:

“The Celtics head into the offseason with a group that, for the most part, should return. Hayward has a hefty player option for next season that he will likely pick up. All of the other core members of Boston’s rotation will be under contract for at least next season.

The report is hardly surprising. While there was always the chance for Hayward to pull an Al Horford and opt out in search of a long-term deal (be it in Boston or elsewhere), the 30-year-old’s injury history would likely hurt his chances of finding that and earning more than the nearly $35 million he’ll make next season. Hayward also battled through what turned out to be a relatively significant ankle sprain upon his return to the Orlando bubble, too, with word that Hayward needed extra rehab before returning to action.

And though Hayward’s season ended with the 6-foot-7 wing laboring and struggling to find his game, the 2019-20 regular season featured some of Hayward’s best work, with 17.5 points per game and a career-best 50 percent field goal percentage in 52 appearances.

With Hayward expected back in the fold, the Celtics will set their sights on hammering out an extension with Jayson Tatum, who is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Celtics are, of course, expected to offer Tatum a max deal.

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