Decision day is here (again) for Gordon Hayward and the Celtics on Thursday as the revised deadline awaits for the veteran forward to make a decision on his $34.1 million player option for the 2020-21 season.
Despite working together with Hayward’s camp on agreeing to push back the decision deadline from Tuesday to Thursday for Hayward, Danny Ainge played it close to the vest on Wednesday night when asked about Hayward’s situation.
"I don’t know about that,” Ainge said Wednesday night about the looming decision. “We’ll start working on free agency and all that tomorrow. Tonight we’re just here with the draft, first phase. Big free agency time, though, there’s a lot to get done still in a very short period of time.”
The same was true for Brad Stevens when asked about the rumors surrounding his former Butler star leaving town.
“I certainly would never speculate on anybody that has an option that gets to make that decision,” Stevens said. “Certainly, we'll see with the player options and the team options, and then free agency after that. We'll see how the team fills itself out…I think that's the beauty of the whole system. If a player has an option, it's their option. It's their choice. They get to do what they want. Team has an option, same thing, unrestricted free agents get to choose what they want. We'll see how it all plays itself out.”
Amid speculation that Hayward has been seeking a new team outside Boston after three years in Green, Stevens also signaled he has given Hayward his space as his decision comes due on his future.
“I’ve always said, I've talked to those guys all year long,” Stevens said. “So those conversations aren't unique, going back years. And as we get closer to these deadlines and these big decisions and everything else, I say, 'If you need me, let me know.' He knows us, he knows me, he knows this whole situation and he weighs that against his other options. That's part of a player option, so that's not too dissimilar to what we've been through in the past. So we'll see again how that plays out. but those conversations, you spend so much time together that I think it's appropriate, from my point of view, to make yourself available, if need be.”
Both Ainge and Stevens tried to be very careful with their words, not even using Hayward by name in any of their comments perhaps as a sign they didn’t want to do anything to potentially upset the key veteran or give any hint of what lies ahead. After no major trades materialized on draft night for the franchise, the Celtics now find themselves directly tied to Hayward’s decision when it comes to their next offseason options. If he opts in or agrees to an extension, the C’s could conceivably keep him in an attempt to maximize their contending chances next season. The other more likely alternative is an opt-out that leads to a sign-and-trade with the Celtics netting some type of return for the 31-year-old.
From a draft night standpoint, little changed in regards to Hayward’s potential suitors. The three teams with the cap room that could conceivably sign Hayward outright with cap room with some maneuvering (Atlanta, New York, Charlotte) made their first-round picks and didn’t add any veteran salary to reduce potential salary-cap space. A wildcard was added to the free-agent market