The trade deadline every season has the potential to make a lasting imprint on both the present and future. Look no further than last February when a flurry of big deals (Tobias Harris, Kristaps Porzingis) changed gameplans for franchises heading into the summer.
There was a bit more of that at the 2020 trade deadline, albeit to a lesser degree when it comes to star power. Golden State and Minnesota traded high priced young talent in D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins. The Pistons dumped Andre Drummond for nothing to have a chance at some cap room in July. The Celtics sat things out again at the deadline for the fourth straight year but that did not mean their future wasn’t potentially impacted last week by the maneuvering of other teams ahead of 2020 free agency.
BSJ spoke with Gordon Hayward earlier this month about his future in Boston with a looming $34.1 million player option for 2020-21 that he has until June 29th to pick up. Hayward will be eligible to earn up to $40.25 million per year on a max contract as a 10-year veteran in his nex deal if he declines his player option this summer.
“What I want to do is help us win a championship here this year,” Hayward told BSJ. “That's our goal as a team, and I think that starts with trying to get better each day and focus on the game at hand. All the other stuff, you deal with as it comes to you. Right now, I'm trying to just play my best basketball and help our team.”
A league source confirmed to BostonSportsJournal.com the Celtics remain very interested in bringing back Hayward over the long-term whether or not he elects to pick up that option this summer. Price point is always going to be an area of concern for the C’s with future deals though as seen last summer when the team declined to match the hefty four-year $109 million offer from the Sixers on Al Horford (and also give up the assets necessary to make a sign-and-trade to keep Horford and bring on Kemba Walker).
After injuries slowed him down early on, Hayward is playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, posting career-highs in rebounding (6.5 per game and efficiency (51.2 percent from the field.) while sacrificing some of his shots within a loaded starting unit. Based on that, it’s still possible that Hayward could command another hefty long-term deal on the open market this summer within a weak 2020 free agent crop if he sustains those kinds of numbers and has a strong postseason.
The question most Celtics fans should be wondering, of course, is what competition will the Celtics in order to retain his services if he foregoes a hefty player option and hits the open market. The list of potential suitors changed dramatically last week after the trade deadline.
Let’s take a closer look at how the trade deadline changed things and why it’s probably good news for the C’s odds of keeping Hayward.