Gordon Hayward opts out, becomes unrestricted free agent
The Brownsburg native has earned more than $150 million in salary over 10 seasons.
Gordon Hayward has elected not to exercise his $34.1 million player option for the 2020-21 season and is now an unrestricted free agent, per league sources.
This is not a huge surprise, but it was a toss-up decision he had to wrestle with less than two weeks before the start of training camp. To give both sides more time, the Celtics agreed to push back his deadline by two days to Thursday afternoon, the day following the draft.
Hayward spent the last three seasons in Boston playing for coach Brad Stevens. He had to overcome several injuries and learned to play beside young talent that blossomed while he was sidelined, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Despite his usage rate (21.1) falling below what it was for five of his seven seasons in Utah, Hayward was efficient in his production. He averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Even though there was significant money guaranteed for next season, it was never a guarantee that he would opt in for it. At 30 years old, with experience, perspective and a growing family, several long-term options are in play.
Returning to the Celtics on a multi-year deal remains an option, as does joining a competitive team via sign-and-trade.
They also risk losing him for nothing. Assuming Anthony Davis re-signs with the Lakers, Hayward — who has lived in Indy this offseason —immediately becomes the top free agent.
Joining the Pacers, his hometown team, is a possibility. There is mutual interest, sources say. But it’s complicated, reliant on a sign-and-trade agreement and one that likely includes center Myles Turner.
Free agency officially begins at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday. Deals cannot be signed until 12:01 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 22.