What Hayward reportedly declining player option means for C's

/ by Darren Hartwell
Presented By TD Bank

Gordon Hayward reportedly has made his decision.

The Boston Celtics forward is declining his $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 season and will become an unrestricted free agent later this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Recent reports suggested Hayward was leaning toward opting out of the final year of his contract, which he signed prior to the 2017 season. The 30-year-old reportedly has drawn interest from several teams -- including the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers -- and may want a change in scenery after three seasons of injuries and inconsistencies in Boston.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Should Celtics fans be mad about the draft? Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens talk about the night | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Hayward's opt-out doesn't necessarily spell the end of his Celtics tenure: The veteran forward could re-sign with the C's on a long-term deal that pays him less money up front but gives him more security as he enters his 11th NBA season.

If Hayward truly wants out of Boston, however, the Celtics still could salvage the situation by completing a sign-and-trade to acquire assets from an interested party like the Knicks or Pacers.


The worst-case scenario for Danny Ainge and Co. is that Hayward simply leaves in free agency, which would mean the Celtics get nothing in return for Hayward while remaining over the salary cap.

Forsberg: What Hayward's opt-out decision means for the Celtics

We should find out more about Hayward's fate fairly soon, as a sign-and-trade could be agreed to prior to the beginning of free agency on Friday.