Night one of free agency has come and gone and it ended up being a very busy one around the association with dozens of signings and trades after things kicked off at 6 p.m. ET.
The Celtics have not been an active team as of Saturday morning, largely because their offseason moves are largely dependent on what happens with Gordon Hayward’s future. Negotiations about a sign-and-trade with the Pacers will pick up again today according to a league source after Hayward told the C’s that Indy is his preferred destination. Whether or not the Pacers make an offer appealing enough for Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on sending a member of his core to an East playoff rival remains to be seen.
This is an evolving situation though as the free-agent market becomes more settled. What impact did other moves around the league have on the potential Hayward negotiations? Plus, what options are still out there for the Celtics with their mid-level exception when the dust settles? Let’s get updated on where things stand heading into Day 2 and what to watch for.
Who is the top bidder for Hayward?
For now, Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting it’s the Pacers who are willing to give Hayward a four-year deal worth close to $100 million. Those terms would surely make Hayward happy but the Pacers don’t have the cap room to sign him outright so they will need Boston’s cooperation via a sign-and-trade to get him to Indy.
Does Hayward have any leverage with the Celtics still?
Technically, yes. There are still three teams with cap room after the opening night of free agency, which are the Knicks ($29 million), Hawks ($25 million) and Hornets ($19 million). The Hawks used a big chunk of their cap room to sign Danilo Gallinari to a three-year deal, which makes them feel like a less likely landing spot given the overlap in skillset with Hayward. However, they still have the cash to make a big offer if they want. The Knicks have stayed quiet in free agency beyond signing Alec Burks to a one-year deal so they probably loom as the biggest walkaway threat right now for Hayward if the Celtics and Pacers can’t come to terms on a sign-and-trade. Marc Stein reports that the Knicks have made a two-year offer but it’s for less annual money than the Pacers deal. The Hornets probably need to clear a little more cap room to get into the Hayward derby or they could work a sign-and-trade with Boston if Hayward is open to going there.
What should the Celtics be hoping for?
We are likely to see some kind of movement in negotiations in the coming hours. The best thing that could happen from a Celtics perspective would be the