I wrote in December of last year that Gordon Hayward can be expected to be on the Celtics roster next season, and that view has not changed. Whether Gordon opts in to his $34.2 Million deal for the 2020-21 season, or chooses to see what else Boston or other teams can offer, the best chance is that we see him in green for 2020-21.
Despite much personal success, an NBA Title has eluded Hayward. Boston’s Core-5 of Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart are slated to earn roughly $115.9 Million next season, and the Celtics are projected to be over the luxury tax threshold. That’s not the major issue. Tatum will be in a contract season in 2020-21, and he is due for a major raise once his 4-year, rookie deal is done. Fitting the salaries of Gordon and Jayson into Boston’s financial landscape for 2021-22 will require masterful maneuvering by Danny Ainge.
ut Hayward recently turned 30 years old, and this may be his last opportunity to optimize his next contract. Will he opt for max money for the shorter term, or a lesser yearly amount for an extended contract? Gordon’s relationship with coach Brad Stevens goes all the way back to their days at Butler, and that may come into play. Hayward plays a style that fits with virtually any team, but that compatibility does not apply to just any coach. And realizing that the Jay Team has not peaked yet, and Smart may not have either – we may be looking at a Super Team next season. That is incentive for Gordon to stay put.
We have not yet seen the real Gordon Hayward. Injuries and recovery have limited his participation, performance and mentality. But one thing is for sure – He fits the post-season like a glove. I envision a healthy Hayward as the difference between a disappointing playoff run and ultimate success.
hat I haven’t discussed is Danny Ainge’s take on all of this. Danny has survived two heart attacks since joining the front office. He won’t remain as Head Honcho of the Celtics forever. He has one Title and wants more – and that includes this season. He will consider Hayward’s health, performance and wishes to remain in Boston (or not), and make decisions from there. The best chance is that we will see Gordon in green next season. Beyond that is anybody’s guess.