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Gordon Hayward opts out of $34.1 million player option for 2020-21, becomes free agent

Gordon Hayward has chosen to enter the 2020 free agent pool by opting out of the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Three Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Gordon Hayward has finally come to a decision regarding his future. As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the swingman chose to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics that would’ve paid him $34.1 million for the 2020-21 season.

This news likely comes as a bit of a shock to Celtics fans everywhere, even after Hayward registered an impressive bounce-back season with averages of 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as a full-time starter in Boston.

Few believed a player with his extensive injury history that only grew longer this past season would forfeit the chance to be the leagues 15th-highest paid player next season.

However, this move doesn’t have to signal the end of Hayward’s time in Boston. The two sides can come together to negotiate a new long-term deal that would entice Hayward with the proper balance of length and salary — they can offer the most money, though any deal could only be ruled official after 6 PM tomorrow night.

Even if Hayward has his eyes set elsewhere around the league, the Celtics don’t have to see their once prized free-agent signing walk away for nothing. There’s a sign-and-trade option with the Indiana Pacers that could return rumored players like Myles Turner and Doug McDermott.

The doomsday scenario is that Hayward’s departure brings nothing in return like Al Horford did last offseason. Both the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks have reported interest in Hayward, with the latter reportedly showing aggressive interest in acquiring his services according to The New York Times’ Mark Stein.

After delaying the deadline on his player option from Tuesday to after last night’s draft, the waiting game continues.

“Gordon doesn’t even know right now,” league sources told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.

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