Gordon Hayward’s future with the Boston Celtics appears to be in serious doubt. Hayward has a $34.1 million player option for the 2020-21 season, and the deadline for him to pick up that option was originally 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday. However, without a long-term resolution decided, Hayward and the Celtics agreed to extend that deadline until Thursday. Over the next two days, the two sides will presumably seek out possible trade destinations, either through Hayward picking up his option and spending one year on a new team or through an opt-out and a sign-and-trade. 

One team that reportedly has interest? The Atlanta Hawks, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. The catch for Boston is that unlike many other possible suitors, the Hawks don’t need Boston’s cooperation. They are slated to have around $44 million in cap space this offseason. If Hayward wants to go to Atlanta, the Hawks can sign him outright. Other suitors, like the Indiana Pacers, are above the cap and need Boston’s help in making a sign-and-trade.

Of course, that would require Hayward opting out. If he opts into the final year of his deal, the Hawks would have to work with Boston on a trade. They could still absorb his $34.1 million salary, and doing so would give the Celtics an enormous trade exception to use on a possible replacement, but Boston would likely ask for assets in that scenario. Right now, the Hawks cannot legally negotiate a new contract with Hayward without Boston’s permission. 

Given their luxury tax troubles, the Celtics appear open to helping Hayward find a new home. Atlanta’s desire to make the 2021 playoffs and its need for a secondary playmaker alongside Trae Young make it a viable destination. But the exact mechanics of a deal to send him there are still up in the air. 

Courtesy: CBS Sports


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