Gordon Hayward Expected to Draw Significant Interest If He Reaches Free Agency

The Boston Celtics will know by 5pm EST whether or not Gordon Hayward will pick up his $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 season.

As of now, Hayward’s feelings towards the Celtics are clearly complicated, with an anonymous Eastern Conference executive surmising that the veteran forward may feel betrayed by Boston giving him an auxiliary role.

In their defense, the Celtics hardly had any choice with the major injury sustained by Hayward and the growth of both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, should Hayward decline his option because of Boston prioritizing Tatum, Brown and Kemba Walker over him, they’ll have steep competition for his services.

Two teams expected to have interest in Hayward are his hometown Indiana Pacers (per NBA Analysis Networks’ Evan Massey) and the New York Knicks (per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor).

Both the Pacers and the Knicks could not only use an infusion of talent to take another step forward as a franchise but have a need for a starting forward as well. In addition, New York will have $42.4 million in cap space, the second-most of any team.

Depending on how important a factor money is to Hayward, he could have a far greater number of suitors in free agency.

Despite his recent injury history, he’s one of the most intelligent and skilled forwards in the league, having averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in the 2019-20 regular season while shooting .500 from the field and .383 from 3-point range.