We were supposed to know by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday just what would happen with Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and his impending option clause. The fact that both Hayward and the team pushed the deadline for that decision to Thursday at 5 p.m.—after Wednesday’s NBA draft—most likely means that two sides are working out potential sign-and-trade scenarios that would allow Hayward to opt out and sign a long-term deal with a new team.
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According to league sources, the favorite remains a deal that would send Hayward home to Indiana, where he grew up and played college basketball at Butler, under now-Celtics coach Brad Stevens. The Pacers have been testing the market for big man Myles Turner—as they did last year—and a Hayward deal is a fit that makes sense for both sides.
But the question is whether the Celtics want to give up on Hayward with only Turner as the return. While Turner would be a fit at center, where most presume the team is weakest, the Celtics are not as eager to make a big investment at that spot as they are at shooting guard or on the wing.
Boston could take on recuperating guard Victor Oladipo in a Turner trade, but if they are to work a sign-and-trade with Indiana for Hayward, they would have to include another player to make the salaries work.
There has also been talk of Hayward potentially going to Atlanta in a move that would help the Hawks transition to a playoff bunch in the East. The Heat have had a longstanding interest in Hayward, too, but there is little chance the Celtics would trade him to the team that eliminated them in the Eastern Conference finals this year.
Or, more likely, there could be a three-team move in the works.
“It’s the logical spot for a deal,” one league source told Heavy.com. “They want to give Hayward what he wants and going back to Indy would be one thing on that list. But the Celtics don’t want to give up Hayward if Turner is the only thing they get in return. And you look at where those two teams are and where they’re going, it is hard to line up the right contracts. I think they’re going to keep trying.”
Would the Celtics Include Marcus Smart in a Pacers Deal?
The Pacers have a longstanding interest in Marcus Smart, and that could be something that would hold up a potential trade between the sides. The Celtics have no interest in dealing Smart, even as his lingering contract issue—he will be due a big raise in 2022, when the Celtics already will be dealing with big salaries for Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown—remains a problem for Boston.
A deal with Hayward and Smart leaving Boston and Turner and Oladipo coming in would work financially. But, in terms of talent, it would leave the Celtics wanting.
The Celtics might have a different view of a trade based around Turner and guard Malcolm Brogdon, however. Brogdon averaged 16.5 points and 7.1 assists last season in Indiana, but struggled with his normally reliable shooting, making 43.8% from the field and 32.6% from the 3-point line.
Brogdon is under contract for the next three years at $65 million. The Pacers have given no indication of shopping Brogdon, but if the Celtics were to give up Smart, they’d likely target Brogdon in a return package.
Gordon Hayward’s Fate Will Determine Celtics’ Immediate Future
The Hayward saga figures to overshadow everything that happens for the Celtics this week.
If he opts out and becomes a free agent, the Celtics can either re-sign him for more years at a lesser upfront price tag or stand to lose him with no return, as happened with center Al Horford, who opted out of the final year of his contract and signed with Philadelphia last summer.
If Hayward opts in, the Celtics can either move forward with him or put him on the trade market. There has been chatter—mostly unconfirmed—that Hayward wants out of Boston.
That could affect how the Celtics approach Wednesday’s NBA draft, too. Boston has three picks—No. 14, 26 and 30—in the first round and the Celtics are open to trading some combination of the three. They could look at adding to their stockpile of big men with those picks or could address the need for more depth on the wing and with ballhandlers.
The deadline has come and gone but still, we have no answers on Hayward and the Celtics.