Gordon Hayward – a 30-year-old who has missed 111 games the last three seasons – could earn $34,187,085 with the Celtics next year.
Instead, he’ll opt to hit unrestricted free agency – and maybe join the Knicks.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 19, 2020
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
The Knicks have been aggressive in their pursuit of Gordon Hayward all week, sources say
Amid a growing belief leaguewide that Hayward will decline his $34 million player option for next season, New York may loom as Hayward's best option given all the Knicks' newfound cap space
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 19, 2020
Gordon won’t match his player-option salary next season. But he could secure enough total compensation in a multi-year deal to justify the immediate salary reduction.
Of course, the Celtics could also re-sign Hayward for themselves. He’s a good, albeit overpaid, player on a team trying to win now.
But Boston is also uniquely well-situated to handle Hayward’s departure. In a league where wing production comes at a premium, the Celtics have two bright and young talents in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Hayward leaving would allow Boston to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9,258,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,623,000) rather than just the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.718 million). But those exceptions probably wouldn’t land a player as good as Hayward.
If paying enough to convince Hayward to decline his player option, his next team probably won’t get good value on his next contract.
The biggest winner in wherever this heads: Hayward, who wouldn’t have opted out unless he knew he had a favorable new deal lined up.