Before the league suspended play on March 11, Gordon Hayward was having a strong season: 17.3 points a game on an impressive 59.3 true shooting percentage, plus 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists a night. He was playing the best ball he had since arriving in Boston, having bounced back from his horrific leg injury.
He also has a player option on his contract this summer. Players having strong years often decide to hit the market while they’re hot…
Except for guys about to make $34.2 million.
Especially ones who are not going to get that much on the open market. Which is why league executives told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com they expect Gordon will opt into his final year.
“It’s too much money to pass up,” one general manager told Heavy.com. “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021.”
The summer of 2021 will have more teams with cap space and is expected to be a much deeper free agent class. If teams strike out on their first choice, they may come at Hayward as a Plan B with a sizeable contract.
Just not one for $34.2 million. Which is why Haward will take the money in his hand and run to the bank.