Hayward Reportedly Opts Out, Kanter Returns to Celtics

Report: These three teams could be in on Gordon Hayward originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Gordon Hayward has declined his player's option with the Boston Celtics.

The forward initially had to make a decision on his $34.2 million player option for next season by Tuesday. That deadline was extended to Thursday at 5 p.m., when Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report he would decline the option.

Hayward becomes an unrestricted free agent. Prior to his decision, there were reports that a potential sign-and-trade to another team was likely.

Meanwhile, Celtics center Enes Kanter opted into his $5 million contract for the upcoming season.

The team declined a qualifying offer to guard Brad Wanamaker, meaning he is an unrestricted free agent.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Delaying the inevitable: Is Boston about to trade Gordon Hayward? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

So where might the 30-year-old land if he does move on from Boston? ESPN's Zach Lowe appeared on "The Jump" Wednesday and named three teams to watch in the Hayward sweepstakes: The Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Charlotte Hornets.

"For a possible trade, I think I would keep my eye on Indiana," Lowe said. "There's been buzz about the Pacers and Gordon Hayward for a while now and for free agency, I mean Atlanta's been rumored. I'm not sure if that's a stalking horse.

"I'd keep my eye on Charlotte, who's got a lot of balls in the air and would like a talent upgrade for next year, particularly on the wing. So I think there's a number of teams and there's certainly going to be wild-card teams. ... But those are the main teams I'm looking at."

Forsberg: Why would Hayward's opt-out decision with Celtics require overtime?

The Pacers reportedly have shown interest in acquiring Hayward dating back to October, with big man Myles Turner mentioned as a possible return for Boston in a trade. The Hawks were rumored to be interested in Hayward if he hits free agency, but the feeling apparently isn't mutual. The Hornets are an intriguing team to monitor with NBA free agency set to begin Friday.

Longtime NBA writer Marc Stein added a fourth possible team to the list on Thursday, saying the New York Knicks have been "aggressive" in their pursuit of Hayward.

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