Celtics president Danny Ainge insists the team wanted to hold on to Gordon Hayward. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In his first public comments this week after leaving Boston for Charlotte, veteran forward Gordon Hayward said he holds no “ill will” toward the Celtics, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

Addressing Hayward’s departure during an appearance on Boston radio show Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team wanted to bring back Hayward, but that the forward preferred the Hornets due to an opportunity to take on more of a featured role — the fact that Charlotte made the largest contract offer probably didn’t hurt either.

Hayward’s exit did allow the Celtics to create a massive $28.5M traded player exception that can be used during the season or in the 2021 offseason. As Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston relays, Ainge said on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to utilize that exception right away.

“We could use it to get three players or four players to strengthen our bench at different times,” Ainge said. “We’re not going to go do anything right now, just because it’s that time of year where people love their teams. Everybody has gotten better in the offseason.

“We’ll see how this season goes and see where we are. We’ll have the ability to improve our team at the trade deadline, and improve our team next offseason if not. It just gives us another vehicle to acquire players that we would not have had.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Within a recap of the Knicks‘ offseason moves, Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that Leon Rose‘s Plan A involved trading for Chris Paul and then signing Carmelo Anthony. When Paul, who reportedly wasn’t interested in joining the Knicks, was instead sent to Phoenix, Rose pivoted and completed a handful of minor signings and trades to fill out the roster.
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman examines how new head coach Tom Thibodeau plans to balance the Knicks‘ player development goals with a desire to be competitive in 2020-21.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters Wednesday that Toronto’s front office has liked DeAndre’ Bembry for a while and was happy to have the chance to sign him this offseason (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca). Nurse praised Bembry’s toughness, defense, and play-making, referring to him as a “high-IQ guy.”
  • Having guaranteed Terence Davis‘ salary for 2020-21, the Raptors continue to wait for the NBA to complete its investigation into the allegations of domestic violence against the second-year guard, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “I think sometimes that may feel a bit unsatisfying but I think that we need to be respectful of that process as well,” general manager Bobby Webster said on Tuesday.

This article first appeared on Hoops Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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