Earlier today, Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics agreed to postpone his player option deadline until Thursday, November 19th. Following this revelation, rumors have begun to surface about potential suitors for Hayward’s signature.
The Hawks are one of the few teams this offseason that have enough cap space to sign Hayward without the need for a sign-and-trade. The news that Atlanta is now “in play” for Hayward has caused some confusion surrounding the delay in Hayward’s decision, as CelticsBlog’s own Keith Smith noted on Twitter.
The only reason I question if this is the direction for Hayward is the extension of his player option deadline. There wasn't much reason to push that back if Hayward wants to sign outright with the the Hawks.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 18, 2020
It's all sort of a mess. https://t.co/rXnqm7uKeU
Another option for Atlanta is to acquire Hayward via sign-and-trade and move some salary of their own. There are multiple routes they could take. The Hawks could build a package around either Clint Capela and/or John Collins. Alternatively, the Celtics could send Hayward (and most likely a draft pick for Atlanta’s troubles) to the Hawks with nothing coming back in return which would generate a gigantic Traded Player Exception that Boston would have a year to fill.
If Hayward is leaving anyway it would make sense for Boston to sign-and-trade Hayward to Atlanta, even if they get nothing back, due to the giant trade exception it would generate. Like Charlotte did with Kemba, but in reverse.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) November 18, 2020
For Boston, outside of creating the TPE, there is little motivation to make this move with nothing coming back in return. Hayward’s departure wouldn’t generate cap space the team could use, but does allow them to use the non-taxpayer MLE ($9.3M) instead of the taxpayer MLE ($5.7M).
Hayward’s player option is worth $34,187,085, and he could still decide to opt into this deal should a suitable trade partner not materialize. Per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Hayward and the Celtics are “in a holding pattern.”
The Indiana native finished the season with scoring splits of 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on shooting splits of 50/38.3/85.5. Hayward has been with the Celtics for three years, appearing in just 125 games.