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With Gordon Hayward Deadline Looming, Brad Stevens Says He's Available To Talk

BOSTON (CBS) -- Reading the tea leaves, it looks as though Gordon Hayward's time in Boston is over. If so, that means his reunion with Brad Stevens -- who coached him to stardom at Butler University -- is over as well.

Yet while all indications point to Hayward either opting out or heading out of Boston in a sign-and-trade, it's not quite done yet. And in the meanwhile, the Celtics' head coach said that he's available to talk -- if Hayward wants to call.

"I've talked to those guys all year long, and so those conversations aren't unique. And I say 'those guys,' even going back years," Stevens told reporters late Wednesday night, after the draft. "And then as they get closer to these deadlines and these big decisions and everything else, I say, 'If you need me, let me know.'"

Stevens obviously has the longest history of anyone with Hayward. Stevens coached Hayward at Butler from 2008-10, with the Bulldogs losing a nail-biter to Duke in the national championship in 2010.

Hayward then left school and was drafted ninth overall by the Utah Jazz. He played seven seasons in Utah before hitting free agency in the summer of 2017. He ultimately chose the Boston Celtics, and his connection with Stevens was considered a major draw for him.

Now, though, after injuries disrupted his Celtics career and reshaped his role on the team, it appears -- based on the delay of the deadline -- as though the team is figuring out a way to gain some compensation for losing Hayward.

But for the time being, Stevens said that he's available.

"I mean, he knows us, he knows me, he knows this whole situation, and he weighs that against his other options," Stevens said of Hayward. "That's part of a player option. So that's not too dissimilar to anything we've been through in the past. So we'll see again how it plays out. But those conversations are, you know, you spend so much time together that I think it's appropriate from my point of view to make yourself available if need be."

Hayward's opt-out deadline is at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

UPDATE: Hayward opted out of his contract, thus making him a free agent on Friday.

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