After spending his first two seasons with the Boston Celtics recovering from an injury, veteran small forward Gordon Hayward is finally starting to live up to expectations of the massive contract he signed in the summer of 2017. Before the NBA went on a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hayward is 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. If his performances become more consistent and he manages to stay away from any major injury, Hayward would undeniably be a huge help for the Celtics in achieving their goal of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and winning the NBA title in the 2019-20 NBA season.
If Hayward establishes an incredible performance in the upcoming 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics aren't the only ones who would benefit, but also Hayward himself. If he plays well in the postseason, Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports believes that Hayward would have the option to decline his $34 million player option for the 2020-21 NBA season and seek a "new, multi-year deal" in the 2020 NBA free agency.
"Gordon Hayward has a player option worth $34 million for the 2020-21 season, but if things go well enough in Orlando he could end up turning down that option in favor of a new, multi-year deal in free agency. Hayward has recovered well from the gruesome leg injury that he suffered at the onset of the 2017-18 season, and he has shown flashes of being the All-Star-caliber player that he was in Utah before the injury occurred. However, some questions still exist about his night-in, night-out durability after such a tough injury, and in turn about his long-term ceiling. A dynamic playoff run could help to squash such concerns."A strong performance in the 2020 NBA Playoffs would indeed give Hayward the power to demand a long-term contract in the free agency market. This could be more possible if Hayward manages to bring back the player that was once considered as the face of the Utah Jazz franchise. If the Jazz's version of Hayward shows up in the postseason, several NBA teams who are looking add a second or a third superstar on their roster would likely express a strong interest in stealing him from the Celtics this fall.
Hayward may have not shown any indication that he's no longer happy with the Celtics, but if he demands a lucrative contract, they could be forced to part ways in the 2020 NBA offseason. As much as the Celtics want to bring Hayward back, they would also need to preserve their salary cap space for the nearing contract extension of franchise cornerstone Jayson Tatum.