Celtics' Gordon Hayward declining $34.2M option, will become free agent

Nov. 19 (UPI) — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is opting out of his $34.2 million contract for the 2020-21 season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

League sources told ESPN, the Boston Herald and The Athletic on Thursday that Hayward initially had to decide on whether to accept or decline his player option by 5 p.m. EST Tuesday, but the veteran forward and the Celtics agreed to move that decision back to Thursday afternoon so both sides could determine the best course of action.

Hayward, who averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 52 games for the Celtics in the 2019-20 campaign, becomes one of the biggest names to hit free agency this off-season. After his decision, he will enter the open market beginning at 6 p.m. EST Friday.

The 30-year-old Hayward now has three options available: re-sign with the Celtics on a long-term contract, sign with a team that has significant cap space or agree to a sign-and-trade deal with a team that doesn’t have enough cap space to sign him.

Hayward, an All-Star selection in 2017, joined the Celtics on a four-year maximum contract in 2017 after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz. He has had a tumultuous three years in Boston, highlighted by a gruesome foot and ankle injury during his first game with the Celtics.

In 641 career games between the Jazz and Celtics, Hayward has averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

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