Danny Ainge Reveals Why He Believes Gordon Hayward Left Boston

Getty Images GM Danny Ainge and Gordon Hayward laugh during the press conference at TD Garden on September 1, 2017

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge says he had one top-priority this offseason:

Re-sign Gordon Hayward.

The two sides fell to come to an agreement (clearly), however, through no intentions of his own, Ainge says the Celtics anticipated Hayward’s exit plan months ago. But Danny hoped that both sides could come to an agreed destination via a sign-and-trade best for all parties considered.

Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich morning show Tuesday when he talked about the Celtics’ initial offseason plan was to bring Hayward back. Instead, Gordon inked a massive four-year, $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

Danny Ainge On Why Gordon Hayward Left Boston: ‘He Preferred To Be A More Featured Player’

Ultimately, leaving Ainge and the Celtics with a parting gift in the form of a $28.5 million traded player exception – the largest TPE in NBA history. It wasn’t Plan A, certainly wasn’t Plan B but it was the best Ainge could squeeze out of losing his second max-paid signee in back-to-back years.

“We set out to try to get Gordon (Hayward) to come back,” Ainge said. “That was our number one goal in the offseason was to get Gordon back with the Celtics. He’s a terrific player and I just think that he preferred to go somewhere else, and made his choice to go to Charlotte.

“I think he preferred to be a more featured player and Charlotte was paying him a lot of money and he chose to go there.”

Ainge went on to confirm that the Indiana Pacers was a potential destination for a Gordon Hayward, sign-and-trade deal but said that those talks fell through.

“Indiana was one of a handful of teams, maybe three or four teams would probably be a more accurate description, that we talked about the potential of sign and trades,” Ainge added. “And, as you know, with sign and trades the player controls that because if we work out a deal with another team but if Gordon doesn’t want to go there, then he doesn’t have to go there. It takes all three parties to be pleased.”

Danny Ainge On Potential Gordon Hayward Indiana Pacers Sign-And-Trade Proposal: ‘If You Don’t Know What I Know Then You Really Don’t Know’

As for the specifics surrounding a trade proposal for the Pacers, Ainge pleaded the fifth. He wouldn’t get into which Indiana players were discussed but had plenty to say to those speculating that he asked the Pacers for the farm and wouldn’t settle for less.

“That’s not even close to fair,” Ainge said. “I understand that perspective because if you don’t know what I know then you really don’t know, at all, what happened. We knew all four of those options and what they were so any trade that came on, it had to be a trade that we wanted, not a trade just to let Gordon go somewhere where he wanted to play.

It had to be something that was good for the Celtics and good for our business, for our luxury tax, for our personnel and the cost of their contracts.”

Ainge, who said it donned on him weeks before Hayward’s decision, believes, either way, Gordon was ready to move on from Boston.

“I think he just wants to be involved in the offense more,” Ainge explained. “Having the ball in his hands to dribble and pass and participate in the offense a little more. I think it’s very common and I think we’ve had some good players. Kemba (Walker), Jaylen (Brown), Jayson (Tatum), and Marcus (Smart); those guys demand the ball some, and I think if you ask each one of them, they’d probably like to have a little bit more of a featured role.

“But that’s the nature of the business that we’re in, that’s not any knock on Gordon in any way, shape, or form.”

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