Shams Charania reported that Gordon Hayward opted out of the final $34 million of his four-year contract in a move that was startling to many around the game. Hayward has suffered a number of injuries throughout his underwhelming tenure in Boston.
He never really played like the guy we saw with the Utah Jazz and especially after the injury, Hayward was expected to opt-in to the $34 million left on his deal because there was no way he was going to get that much on a yearly basis if he went into free agency. Now, the Celtics don’t have to keep a massively overpaid player on their roster. They lose talent, but, as much as fans will hate to hear it, limiting costs amid a pandemic and an impending ~$195M contract extension offer to Jayson Tatum is important too.
Hayward will get to see the contract he gets on the open market. The New York Knicks, who have recently cleared $40 million in cap space, have been reported to be interested.
The move comes even more as a surprise because the deadline for Hayward’s decision on whether he was going to opt-in or opt-out was extended from Tuesday night to Thursday night. The delay made the basketball world assume the Celtics were working something out with another team to execute a sign and trade.
Now without Hayward on the floor, head coach Brad Stevens will be putting out the same lineup as he did vs the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Daniel Theis are the projected starting five.
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @benfaddensports
(Photo via Mark J. Terrill/AP)
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