The Indiana Pacers really wanted Gordon Hayward this offseason. Just ask Kevin Pritchard.
The Pacers general manager was transparent Wednesday about his team's desire to acquire Hayward, who agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency after declining his $34.2 million player option with the Boston Celtics.
"We pursued as hard as we possibly could," Pritchard told reporters, via J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.
Indiana would have needed a sign-and-trade with the Celtics to free up the cap space to sign Hayward, an Indianapolis native. Pritchard confirmed he discussed a potential deal with Boston, but from his vantage point, Danny Ainge and Co. asked for too much.
"If you can add a player that materially improves you, you have to take a shot," Pritchard said, via J. Michael. " ... It hurt a little more this time (because) the feedback was he wanted to be here. We were probably overplaying in the trade but we were trying to get a special player."
"It can't come at a cost so debilitating that it doesn't make sense," Pritchard added.
The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn reported last week that the Celtics wanted Myles Turner and either T.J. Warren or Victor Oladipo in return for Hayward, but that Indiana was only offering Turner and Doug McDermott.
ESPN's Zach Lowe recently suggested the Celtics weren't very high on Turner, which may explain why they couldn't find common ground with Pritchard's Pacers.
Boston also acquired big man Tristan Thompson with the mid-level exception created by Hayward's departure and reportedly is working on a sign-and-trade with the Hornets that could return a traded player exception.
None of this is good news for the Pacers, who felt like they had the inside track on Hayward but couldn't land their top free-agent target.
At least Pritchard was gracious in defeat.
"We actually called Charlotte when (Hayward's deal) was announced and we told them, 'Congratulations,' " Pritchard said.