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Report: Indiana still looking for ways to sign-and-trade for Gordon Hayward

Michael Holley and Mike Smith discuss their thoughts after the 2020 NBA Draft, including big moves by the Thunder and 76ers.

The buzz around the league is that Gordon Hayward — now an unrestricted free agent — would like to go home to Indiana, where he was born, raised, and played his college ball.

The Pacers want that as well but do not have the cap space to sign him outright, so they are looking for a sign-and-trade deal, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Another team with cap space and looking to take a step forward next season into the playoffs, Atlanta, also reportedly has been interested in Hayward. Also, do not count out a return to Boston, which may be more likely than people realize.

While Hayward will make less next season than the $34.7 million he would have made opting into his final year, he will gain the security of multiple years — something that matters to a player coming off a horrific leg injury just a couple of seasons ago. The conventional wisdom around the league is he will get something in the four-year, $90 million to $100 million range (and maybe a little higher if there is a bidding war).

Hayward showed flashes last season of returning to the All-Star level player he was before his devastating leg injury, but he is not consistently at that level yet. He averaged 17.5 points a game playing at an above-average level during the regular season, but against the more focused defenses of the playoffs his scoring dipped to 10.8 points a game with below-average efficiency.

In a down free-agent class, and with shot-creating wings in demand, there are certainly teams interested in bringing in Hayward — Indiana is one of them. The only questions are years and money, but those are big questions.