Gordon Hayward has made his decision on his Boston Celtics player option for 2021, but that's far from the end of the Hayward saga.
Hayward is set to be an unrestricted free agent after declining his $34.2 million option on Thursday evening. The 30-year-old now is free to sign with any team, or he could agree to a sign-and-trade to a preferred destination.
Obviously, turning down $34.2 million in the final year of a contract is a surprising move. That makes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated believe Hayward already knows his next move.
"I think for Gordon Hayward it's likely he already has another deal on the table" Mannix said Thursday on NBC Sports Boston. "Hayward and his agent Mark Bartelstein, they're not going to opt out of $34 million unless they're as sure as they can be that there's another deal out there. Maybe it's a team he could sign outright with like the New York Knicks or Atlanta Hawks. Maybe there's been discussions of a sign-and-trade situation with the Celtics where they could recoup something and Gordon can get a long-term deal.
"But there's simply no way that Hayward would walk away from this type of one-year deal without having some certainties out there on the free-agent market. So it certainly doesn't look like Gordon Hayward will ever play in a Celtics uniform again, but I think there's another shoe to drop when it comes to what's going to happen with Gordon Hayward."
Hayward's decision could come sooner rather than later with NBA free agency beginning on Friday.