By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Staring down an opt-in decision of the final year of his four-year, $128 million max contract, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward may follow the lead of a former teammate (and the max contract-signing player that came before him in Boston) this offseason.
Speaking on The Lowe Post with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Lowe and former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks revealed a look into what Hayward’s camp may be thinking in an uncertain market.
“I think what his agent Mark Bartelstein is doing right now is canvassing the league,” Marks said. “He’s doing the Al Horford plan.”
(Horford, of course, opted out of his contract with the Celtics and signed a four-year, $109 million contract with the Sixers.)
What Bartelstein’s canvassing means remains unknown. If you recall, there was talk of Horford’s opt out with Boston coming with the hopes of simply signing a longer term deal with the Celtics. That could certainly be the play in a potential Hayward opt out (it’s not hard to imagine a player with Hayward’s injury history wanting to lock down another high-dollar deal before something else happens), but it does obviously open the door for The Horford Play, which ultimately saw him leave the Green for Philly.
But while the intentions of such a play are uncertain, Lowe confirmed there’s indeed something buzzing about Hayward’s future.
“There’s some buzz out there and I can’t figure out what the buzz means,” Lowe noted. “The buzz that I’m hearing is like the smoke, the smoke indicating that something is happening. I’m not sure what’s up. But I don’t think it’s a lock that Gordon Hayward is on the Celtics next year.”
The Pacers have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. And The Haywards still live out there, so there’s something to be said for being close to home. There’s also the legit possibility for the sides to work out a potential trade when you look at Hayward, the Celtics’ three first-round picks (the Pacers do not have one for in this year’s draft), as well as potential Pacers on the move, such as guard Victor Oladipo and/or center Myles Turner.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Miami Heat were among the finalists for Hayward before he chose the Celtics. Is that something that the Heat, who eliminated the Celtics to advantage to the 2020 NBA Finals, want to revisit? Or would Hayward be too much of a headache to absorb when the Heat reportedly have their sights set on Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021?
But Marks had an off-the-board pick when it comes to a potential Hayward exit this offseason.
“I think Atlanta is a wild card in this whole offseason here as far as adding veteran guys trying to accelerate the rebuild a little bit,” Marks mentioned. “And how does Gordon Hayward fit in there at a $24-25 million number? Because they’ve got the cap space to do it.”
The 30-year-old Hayward averaged 17.5 points and a career-high 6.7 rebounds per game, and also shot a career-high 50 percent from the field in 52 games for the Celtics this past season.