Now that Gordon Hayward has officially opted out of his $34.2 million player option, the obvious question becomes what’s next for him and the Boston Celtics?
It turns out, Hayward himself might not even know right now.
According to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, “Hayward’s opt-out viewed more as a formality. League source said it’s still possible he returns to C’s in restructured deal, unless, ala Al Horford, he receives home run offer from Atlanta or New York. ‘Gordon doesn’t even know right now.’”
In many respects, opting out and looking for long-term security makes sense for Hayward. He’s suffered a few significant injuries and a longer-term contract can provide him a safety net if his bad luck continues. Look no further than Klay Thompson and the four years and nearly $160 million remaining on his contract as evidence of this strategy.
The question now is where that long-term contract comes from. Hayward has three options.
1. Re-sign long term in Boston. The Celtics still hold his Bird Rights, so they could sign him for any negotiated amount. If he leaves, they don’t have that amount of money to spend on someone else, but they aren’t really limited in what they can pay Hayward.
2: Walk. The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks have a lot of money to offer him and they can give him a four-year deal worth plenty of money. If he’s not happy with is role in Boston and those cities and situations seem appealing, then he can just sign there.
3. Sign-and-trade. If Hayward doesn’t feel comfortable with New York or Atlanta, he and the Celtics can test the league for a situation that works for them. The rumored Indiana Pacers interest seems like an obvious possibility here.
Right now, nothing is certain. It appears that applies to Hayward himself.
By John Karalis, masslive.com