The Boston Celtics' worst-case scenario may not play out, after all.
Gordon Hayward prefers to join the Indiana Pacers after declining his $34.2 million player option with the Boston Celtics and becoming a free agent, The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Friday night.
The Pacers don't have the cap space to sign Hayward outright and would need to execute a sign-and-trade with Boston to land the 30-year-old veteran. According to Stein, Hayward is seeking a four-year deal worth roughly $100 million total, or $25 million per year.
Stein reports the New York Knicks are still in the mix to sign Hayward with their ample salary cap space, but that they're currently offering less money than the Pacers.
Indiana likely appeals to Hayward over New York for two reasons: He grew up in Indianapolis and reportedly wants to play on a contender, which the Knicks most certainly are not.
The Celtics have plenty of incentive to get a deal done with the Pacers: They'll be able to acquire assets in return for Hayward as opposed to him simply signing with the Knicks and leaving the C's empty-handed.
It appears the two sides still have some negotiating to do, however. Per The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, the C's are seeking big man Myles Turner and either guard Victor Oladipo or wing T.J. Warren in return for Hayward, while the Pacers are offering Turner and veteran sharpshooter Doug McDermott.