Gordon Hayward Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gordon Hayward declines player option with Celtics, enters free agency

It appears $34 million wasn't enough for Gordon Hayward to remain with the Boston Celtics on his current contract. 

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Thursday that Hayward opted out of his deal and will enter free agency. Marc Stein of the New York Times linked the one-time All-Star with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the Atlanta Hawks could pursue the 30-year-old. 

Hayward spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz before putting pen to paper on a four-year, $128 million agreement with the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2017. He suffered a gruesome leg injury less than six minutes into his Boston tenure, however, and still hasn't yet reclaimed his All-Star form. 

Despite that, Hayward enters free agency coming off his best season as a member of the Celtics. He averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 38.3% from three-point range and 50% from the field in 52 games during the pandemic-altered campaign. 

There's little chance he'll sign a contract worth $34 million per year this time around, but he'll nevertheless be a tasty target for a club looking to add a starting forward who is eager to show he isn't past his prime. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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