After suffering a huge disappointment in his first two years with the Boston Celtics, veteran small forward Gordon Hayward has managed to show a massive improvement with his performance in the 2019-20 NBA season. Though he's yet to regain his All-Star form, Hayward is already posting decent numbers, averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. Hayward remains undecided whether he is planning to opt into the final year of his contract with the Celtics or not, but if he decides to test the free agency market, he's expected to receive plenty interest from NBA teams who want to boost their chances of contending for the NBA championship title in the 2020-21 NBA season.
One of the NBA teams who are currently being linked to Hayward is his hometown team, the Indiana Pacers. In a recent appearance on the NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star talked about Hayward and his impending free agency. Michael thinks that if Hayward becomes available, he would be on the Celtics' radar this fall.
Though he still doesn't consider him as a superstar, Michael sees Hayward as a "good player" who could help the Pacers become a more competitive team in the 2020-21 NBA season. With his ability to play multiple positions, Michael believes that adding Hayward to the Pacers' roster would give them more roster flexibility.
"He can play multiple positions," Michael said.
"They have a bunch of guys that can do multiple positions. You can play an even more small-ball lineup. Say for instance, you moved on (Myles) Turner or (Domantas) Sabonis. Now you have space where you can go with real small-ball lineups and slot guys like him at the (power forward) and come up with some real diverse lineups that could give teams troubles and still have that big man/rim protector underneath to help keep the defensive integrity. The kind of player Hayward is, is the kind of player they would definitely be interested in."It would definitely be interesting to see Hayward play for his hometown team. If the Pacers acquire Hayward and Victor Oladipo returns to his old self, the Pacers would undeniably become a more dangerous team in the 2020-21 NBA season. However, as of now, it remains unknown how far the Pacers are willing to go to bring Hayward to Indiana. To convince Hayward to opt-out of his $34.1 million player option and leave the Celtics, the Pacers would likely be needing to offer him a long-term contract in the 2020 NBA free agency.