Gordon Hayward is a free agent.
Not on the court, he’s still a Boston Celtic, and they are banking on his return from a gruesome ankle injury last season and providing the shot creation, shooting, and all-around game that had Danny Ainge targeting him in free agency a year ago.
Off the court, he’s a shoe free agent, coming off a deal with Nike. He is a star player in a major market on a team that will be playing deep into the playoffs, that will have Nike interested in retaining him. However, some interesting suitors are lining up according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.
One company with strong interest in Hayward is New Balance, which would look to re-launch its dormant basketball category with the Celtics star. The company’s commitment to re-engage in hoops isn’t entirely a secret, as it recently partnered with the Celtics on the team’s new 70,000-square-foot Auerbach Center, the franchise’s new state-of-the-art training facility.
In addition to New Balance’s expected interest, Chinese brand Anta could also emerge as a strong contender to sign Hayward.
There’s a lot of factors that will go into Hayward’s decision, money alone will not decide it — how they plan to promote and market him, comfort with the brand, comfort with the shoes themselves all comes into play. . But the cash on the table will be the biggest factor. It always is. If New Balance or Anta come in over the top with a massive bag of money, it will be hard to say no.