It is the question that has loomed for the Celtics for much of the year, and now that NBA free agency has opened, it can begin to be answered in earnest: What happens with Gordon Hayward next season? We are closer to knowing but still, it might take a bit of time to get a real answer.
As we at Heavy.com reported back on Tuesday, when Hayward and the Celtics pushed back the original deadline on his contract option for 2020-21, the focus for Hayward and Boston remains a sign-and-trade with the Pacers, with center Myles Turner being key to a return package for the Celtics.
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“It’s the logical spot for a deal,” one league source said. “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.”
Pacers, Celtics Talks Hung Up on Wings
But while that might prove to be the crux of a deal with Indiana, the two sides are still haggling over fair compensation.
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the Pacers would be willing to take on Hayward in a sign-and-trade for Turner and forward Doug McDermott, who averaged 10.3 points for the Pacers last year and shot 43.5% from the 3-point line.
But the Celtics want Turner paired with either Victor Oladipo or T.J. Warren, according to Washburn.
Oladipo is the Pacers star guard who came back from a torn quadriceps muscle and was not quite himself—a former All-Star, he averaged 14.5 points and shot only 39.4% from the floor for the Pacers last season. Oladipo has only one year left on his contract, but it runs $21 million so it is unclear how the Celtics could match salaries with Indiana if he were included.
The Pacers are said to be eager to move Oladipo, who was, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star, asking opposing players–during games–if he could join their teams.
Warren would be a major score for the Celtics, a player who averaged 18.9 points on 53.6% shooting, with 40.3% shooting from the 3-point line. He did that in the absence of Bojan Bogdanovic, though, and with Bogdanovic now healthy, the hope is that Indiana might sell high on Warren.
Warren is signed for two years, at $11.7 million next year and $12.7 the following year.
Turner, who is signed for three more seasons at $18 million per year, averaged 12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season.
Gordon Hayward Has Options Beyond a Trade to the Pacers
But Hayward, who is from Indianapolis and still has a home there, is not bent on going to the Pacers only. He is drawing interest, too, from the two teams who could logically sign him outright—the Knicks and hawks, both of whom have cap space. He could decide that, while the Celtics are haggling over sign-and-trade details, he simply wants to sign a big contract in New York and Atlanta.
The Hornets have also been rumored to be willing to give Hayward a big contract. If he leaves as an unrestricted free agent, Boston will get nothing in return.
There is still a chance, too, however remote, that Hayward–hold your breath for this, Celtics fans–could return to Boston.
Either way, the Celtics would like to preserve some value for Hayward. Therefore, they are expected to continue to hunt for the right sign-and-trade in the next couple of days, with a resolution possibly coming on Saturday.