By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
A Celtic for the last three seasons, Gordon Hayward has made it clear that he wants to go home and play for the Pacers.
But to make that happen, Hayward and the Pacers will need the Celtics’ help, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
“Indiana remains Gordon Hayward’s preferred destination, league sources say,” Stein reported late Friday night. “Which requires a sign-and-trade with the Celtics to net the former Butler star a deal estimate in the four-year, $100 million range.”
It’s an interesting twist to an outcome that’s almost felt inevitable given the smoke and fire around Hayward, the C’s, and the Pacers since the start of the offseason. And with Hayward’s intentions and desire to move back home officially the worst kept secret in basketball, it’s a situation that seemingly puts some negotiating power back in the hands of Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
It explains the Celtics’ ask from the Pacers in a Hayward sign-and-trade, with Boston reportedly seeking center Myles Turner and guard T.J. Warren or Victor Oladipo in return for Hayward, per the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. According to Washburn, the Pacers have instead offered up Turner and forward Doug McDermott.
Turner is an obvious want for the Celtics, and would make plenty of sense as the logical ask with the C’s shipping out centers Vincent Poirier (to Oklahoma City) and Enes Kanter (to the Trail Blazers) in the last two days.
A five-year veteran, Turner is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per night. The 6-foot-11 Turner has also shown an ability to make shots from deep, converting on 162 of his last 446 tries from deep (36.3 percent).
The second part of the deal is certainly a tricky one for the Pacers, as Warren is coming off a career-best 19.8 points per game in 2019-20 while Oladipo has over 20.7 points per game over his three-season run with the Pacers. McDermott, meanwhile, is a bench piece coming off a solid 2019-20 with 10.3 points per night and a 43.5 shooting percentage from deep.
It’s just not hard to see why the Pacers wouldn’t want to part with a key member of their backcourt when also giving $100 million to Hayward for the next four years. But it’s also tough when everybody (especially the Celtics) knows that Indiana is where Hayward wants to be.
That said, Hayward does have other potential suitors, including the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets. The Atlanta Hawks, at one point considered a darkhorse candidate for the 30-year-old forward, are likely out of the mix after signing Danilo Gallinari to a three-year deal worth $61 million early into free agency.
A Hayward decision is not expected to come tonight, according to the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.