The Indiana Pacers may be interested in trading for some talent over the offseason, and one player they have their eyes on is Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. Some within the Pacers organization continue to be interested in potentially trading for Hayward, who signed a four-year contract worth $127 million with the Celtics in 2017 and has a $32.4 million player option for the 2020-21 season, according to Ian Begley of SNY.
Something to keep an eye on once we find out when NBA teams can start making trades: some within the Pacers organization continue to have interest in trading for Celtics' Gordon Hayward, per SNY sources. It's unknown what Boston would want in return for Hayward -- or if the club is even open to moving him. Hayward, who starred at Butler, can become a free agent by opting out of the final year of his deal, worth roughly $34 million.
A previous report from ESPN's Tim Bontemps suggested that Hayward is likely to exercise his player option for the 2020-21 season. Given his age (30) and recent injury history, it's not especially surprising that Hayward would opt to exercise that option, as opposed to pursuing a new deal in free agency. By exercising the option, Hayward will get the $34 million, which is likely more than he would command for a single season in a new deal. Plus, he'd also get an opportunity to audition for a new contract next offseason, either with the Celtics or another franchise. If he is able to stay healthy and look like his old self next season, Hayward will command another solid multi-year deal.
If Hayward turns down the option in favor of a new deal in free agency, the Pacers could go after him then. But, even if he does exercise the option, it isn't necessarily the end of opportunities for Indiana. If Hayward opts in, but isn't in Boston's long-term plans, they could potentially be open to moving him in a deal in order to gain something in return as opposed to just losing him for nothing in free agency.
Hayward has worked continuously to get back to the peak of his powers after suffering a devastating, season-ending ankle injury during his first game with the Celtics in October 2017. After starting in just 18 total games last season, Hayward started in all 52 regular-season games that he played with the Celtics this season. He averaged nearly nine more minutes of playing time per game this season, and he increased his per game scoring average by six points (from 11.5 last season to 17.5 this season). Unfortunately, another ankle injury limited Hayward to just five appearances during the postseason, but he was able to return for Boston's conference finals matchup with Miami.
If the Celtics do ultimately make Hayward available via trade, the Pacers likely won't be the only team interested in the veteran forward's services. If the Celtics don't make him available and he plays out the final year of his contract in Boston, Indiana will have to wait until free agency in 2021 to pursue him.