Analyst Ryen Russillo joined Bill Simmons on his latest episode of The Ringer’s “Bill Simmons Podcast,” where the two explored all of Hayward’s options – from opting into his final year in Boston, signing a long-term deal with the Celtics to signing a multiyear contract with another team. What would make the most sense for the 10-year veteran?
This came after Russillo spilled the latest on what he’s heard through the league’s grapevine.
“I’ve heard Gordon Hayward does want out,” Russillo said. “But I don’t know if he’s going to get the money. He’s not opting out of that huge number unless he knows he’s getting the deal so that can be an Atlanta solution even though it doesn’t make a ton of sense but I could also understand Atlanta saying ‘hey, whatever, we didn’t have to give up anything, we used all this cap space, we’ll figure out which young players we want to play.’
“But does Gordon Hayward not like the current situation in Boston enough to then want to go ahead and play with Trae Young and watch him shoot a bunch of times? I don’t know.”
Gordon Haywards $34.2 Million Option & The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement
Simmons, who added another layer to the conversation, explained Hayward’s newfound approach to his $34.2 million option for the 2020-21 season in light of the situation currently affecting the league’s CBA.
“If the salary cap is going way back next year, and he can figure out some deal where he gets like four (years) for $78 (million), right? And it’s like $20 million, $19 million, $18 million, $17 million, it’s like ‘oh my god, you took a $14 million pay cut.’ Well, actually, you didn’t because that $34 million you were making this year – it’s already going to be less money if it’s a 72-game season,” Simmons said. “If it’s a 50-game season, or they do that 40% escrow thing, it’s even less; you care more about the season after (2021-2022) – locking down some contract when there’s going to be less cap space, more people in the space and suddenly, it’s unrealistic, you can get $20 million.
“There’s some sort of math version of it that that actually might make sense, by the way, that would screw the Celtics if he opted out because they would much rather have him as an expiring contract/hope that he’s good this good year guy versus you just lose the asset.”
Hayward’s future in Boston could boil down to how interested the Celtics are in a lucrative long-term deal, however, if Hayward isn’t happy with his role with the Celtics, and knows of a team willing to commit then it’s likely we’ll see Gordon sign elsewhere.
“It’s a problem. They should be worried about it but it really comes down to; OK, what does he know that’s already going to be available?” Russillo said. “Because I don’t know what I believed. I actually think we were very early on this. I don’t know if you shared it with a ton of people, it was kind of just you and I talking like, ‘hey what are you hearing on Hayward?’ Because one of my pushbacks to ‘well, he can go ahead and get more guaranteed money now than what the one year at $34 million is for him’ and one of the things I always say to that is let’s not freak out and act like he’s not going to get zero dollars offered to him at the end of this contract.
“But because of what you just said with whatever you’re trying to figure out and if the cap is artificially at $109 (million) then it might make the most sense for Hayward, especially with all the injury history.”
Is Gordon Hayward Unhappy In Boston?
In the end, while Hayward’s unofficial comeback season was a spark throughout the regular season, injuries from last season could ultimately mean a diminished role in 2021 on a team full of rising, young talent. Especially, if the Celtics draft an NBA-ready prospect in the first round, the idea of becoming a top option on an up-and-coming team fighting for a playoff spot doesn’t sound all that bad, if you’re Hayward.
“That means he’ll have wanted out of Boston bad enough to go to a bad team that has the cap space,” Russillo added. “Which is why I think whenever that is brought up I always think ‘well, wait a minute, why would he want to go and do that?’ but I think Gordon Hayward is sick of moments where he’s looking around and going ‘I’m the fifth option right now for shooting?’ I’m not even blaming the other guys; they’re saying, ‘you’re hurt all the time, and even when you’re back you’re not back all the way, so yeah, sorry we’re not getting it to you a ton.’
“What’s Gordon Hayward supposed to do? Do them the favor – not opt-out – so that he can be a trade asset later on and get traded to a team he wants to go to even less than a free agent team he (would have) signed with?”