There was some cooperation on Tuesday afternoon as the Celtics and Gordon Hayward’s camp agreed to push back his option deadline from Tuesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon in order to both sides to get a better sense of their market landscape and offseason options. However, a look beneath the surface signals a bit of a staring match here between Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein and the Celtics front office as they both try to navigate offseason priorities.
This is not a great year for any player to become a free agent amid a pandemic with just five teams now expected to have meaningful cap room ahead of the draft after the Suns traded for Chris Paul earlier in the week. However, there have been a steady stream of leaks in the past few weeks about teams interested in Gordon Hayward. The safe assumption is that all of them have been coming from Hayward’s camp in an attempt to put a scare into Danny Ainge, who figures that Hayward does not have $34 million (or anything close to it) waiting for him on the open market in this climate.
A job of an agent though is to protect his client and try to maximize both money and preferable situations for him to play in. Bartelstein knows that once Hayward opts in, he’s vulnerable to be dealt on draft night or in free agency, especially if Hayward has not been receptive towards extension talks with Boston. There’s probably a number that Hayward would be happy with to stay in Boston but the expectation is that the Celtics are nowhere close to it at this point. They have big extensions coming up with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum so signing Hayward to a bloated long-term deal that may end up becoming a negative asset within months (if more injuries rise) would hamper their flexibility. They would very much like to keep Hayward if he’s open to