Celtics_Heat_Basketball_40402

Gordon Hayward is passing up a $34.1 million salary this coming season and will become a free agent instead, though it’s possible that he could re-sign with the Celtics. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward opted out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $34.1 million, making him a free agent, a person familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced.

Hayward could still re-sign with the team, either to remain in Boston or be part of a sign-and-trade deal that would open up more potential destinations. The Celtics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brad Stevens, who also coached Hayward in college at Butler University, recruited Hayward to Boston in 2017 and the team signed him to a four-year, $128 million deal that made him the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history. But Hayward snapped his leg in the first quarter of his first game, missing all of the 2017-18 season.

He averaged 26 minutes and 11.5 points the next season – far below his numbers in Utah – but began to return to his previous form this past season, averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

The two sides decided to push back the deadline for Hayward to decide on the option until Thursday afternoon. Speaking to reporters during the NBA draft on Wednesday night, Stevens said he wouldn’t push Hayward one way or the other.

“It’s their option. It’s their choice. They get to do what they want,” the coach said. “I’ve talked to those guys all year long. … As they get closer to those deadlines, I say ‘If you need me, let me know.’ He knows us, he knows me and this entire situation.”

THE CELTICS announced on Twitter that they’ve extended qualifying offers to center Tacko Fall and guard Tremont Waters.

Fall and Waters were rookies in 2019-20 and spent most of the season with the Maine Red Claws of the G League.

Fall, an undrafted free agent from the University of Central Florida, averaged 12.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in 29 games for the Red Claws, and 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in seven games with the Celtics. He was named to the G League All-Defensive team.

Waters, a second-round pick from Louisiana State, was the G League Rookie of the Year and was a first-team All-Star after averaging 18 points and 7.3 assists in 36 games for the Red Claws. He also played seven games for the Celtics, averaging 3.6 points and 1.5 assists.

THE CELTICS also traded center Vincent Poirier and cash considerations to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a 2021 conditional second-round draft pick.

Poirier’s first year in the NBA didn’t go particularly well. He played in 22 games, averaging just 5.9 minutes and 1.9 points. He was unable to break into Boston’s big man rotation, and a broken pinky finger that cost him six weeks in December and January didn’t help.

The Celtics created a roster spot with the move, which they needed with the drafting of Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard. In addition, the Celtics created a $2.5 million traded player exception, which they can use to acquire a player later in the season who makes that amount or less.

SEMI OJELEYE had his $1.75 option for this coming season picked up by the team, but it could be just a temporary move, according to several media reports. The team has until Saturday to decide whether to cut Ojeleye or keep him and guarantee his contract.

Meanwhile, the Celtics did not exercise their option on backup point guard Brad Wanamaker, making him an unrestricted free agent. That move could create an opening for either Waters or rookie draft pick Payton Pritchard to earn playing time behind Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart.

 

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.