Some members of the Pacers‘ organization continue to have interest in making a trade for Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who cautions that it’s not clear whether Boston is open to moving Hayward or what the C’s would want in return for him.
This isn’t the first time this year that Hayward has been linked to Indiana. Approximately four months ago, J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star said during a podcast appearance that the veteran forward – an Indianapolis native who played his college ball at Butler – was a potential target for the Pacers.
“The kind of player Hayward is, is the kind of player (the Pacers) would definitely be interested in,” Michael said at the time.
Although Hayward can technically become a free agent this offseason, he’s expected to pick up his $34MM+ player option instead. Turning down that option in favor of a longer-term extension that locks in more overall guaranteed money is a possibility, but a new deal likely wouldn’t pay Hayward anything close to $34MM in 2020/21.
If and when he opts in, Hayward will be eligible to be traded, so it’s possible the Pacers and Celtics could work out a deal at that point — Myles Turner is one player who might pique Boston’s interest, for example. However, no Pacer is earning more than $21MM in ’20/21, so multiple pieces would be required in any trade and it would probably be a challenge for the two teams to agree on a fair deal.
Additionally, Begley’s report doesn’t specify exactly which members of the Pacers’ front office are intrigued by the possibility of acquiring Hayward. President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has the final say on personnel moves, so he’d obviously have to be on board with the idea.
We shouldn’t close the door on the idea of a homecoming for Hayward, but his contract situation complicates matters, as does the fact that neither Boston nor Indiana has a ton of cap flexibility. We’ll have to wait to see if anything comes of the Pacers’ alleged interest in the coming weeks.