Gordon Hayward reportedly opting out of $34M with Celtics, Knicks rumored destination

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward vs. Knicks
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

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:

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

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.

In addition to the Knicks, Hayward has been linked to the Hawks and Pacers. New York and Atlanta have the cap space to sign Hayward outright. Indiana would need a sign-and-trade.

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.