Gordon Hayward’s 2020 offseason saga might soon be reaching an end. According to Stadium NBA insider Shams Charania, the free agent forward hopes to work out a deal with the Indiana Pacers.
“Gordon Hayward is fully focused and wants to sign a deal with the Pacers. That is his preferred destination I’m told…” Charania said. “…His preference and his desire over the last couple weeks has grown to go back home, to go back to Indianapolis.”
The news is just the latest in the 30-year-old’s journey since his season concluded in late September. Numerous teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, and his current team, the Boston Celtics have express interest in acquiring Hayward this offseason, but with free agency just under way, no official deal has been done.
Most recently, Hayward opted out of his $34.2 million extension with the Celtics that would’ve kept him in Boston through the end of the 2020-21 season. The move seemed to indicate that both sides were looking for opportunities to sign-and-trade the 2017 All-Star.
"Gordon Hayward is fully focused and wants to sign a deal with the Pacers."
— Stadium (@Stadium) November 20, 2020
Now, the Pacers have emerged as a serious contender to acquire Hayward. A return to Indianapolis would certainly be fitting for the former Butler Bulldog. Hayward led Butler to the National Championship game in 2010, where the Bulldogs fell to Duke.
With the Pacers, the 30-year-old forward would have an opportunity to play alongside another former local college star, Indiana Hoosiers great Victor Oladipo. Although it’s unclear exactly what Indiana would lose if they went the sign-and-trade route, Hayward could work well in the Pacers offense. Most importantly, he would give Oladipo another play-making option on the wing.
Hayward’s stint with the Celtics hasn’t been the smoothest. After averaging over 20 points per game with Utah, the former ninth overall pick dropped off in Boston. Unfortunately, he’s been marred by injuries over the last few years, leaving his upside fairly limited.
NBA free agency just began at 6 p.m. ET on Friday. Stay tuned for the latest on Hayward and other key free agents.