BOSTON (CBS) -- Gordon Hayward wants to go home to Indiana. That's not great news for the Celtics, but it may work out for them in the end.
According to Sham Charania of The Athletic, Hayward has set his sights on playing for the Pacers.
"Gordon Hayward is fully focused and wants to sign a deal with the Pacers. That is his preferred destination," Charania reported Friday night, just ahead of the start of NBA free agency.
Hayward is a free agent after opting out of his final year with the Celtics, passing up a $34 million payday for the 2020-21 season. But the Pacers don't have the cap space to sign Hayward outright, and will have to work out a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, sending some players back to Boston in return.
That's great news for the Celtics, who may end up getting something out of this whole Hayward mess after all. Losing Hayward would be a big blow to Boston, but getting something in return would certainly help.
Though the two sides have been talking, a deal may take some time to come to fruition. According to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, the Pacers have offered Boston starting center Myles Turner and swingman Doug McDermott. Danny Ainge asked for Tuner and either T.J. Warren or Victor Oladipo, and that is where the talks stand at the moment.
So the two sides seem pretty far apart. But if Indy wants Hayward -- and Hayward wants Indy -- the Pacers are going to have to work something out with Boston.
Hayward could re-sign with the Celtics, as Charania noted, or he could choose to sign with someone else. The Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets are all potential suitors given their large chunk of cap space this offseason, but Hayward may not want to play for a team that isn't close to sniffing a title.
If they can't get him to re-sign, it would be in Boston's best interest for Hayward to land in Indiana, since they would be getting something in return. If Hayward signs with someone else via free agency, Boston will lose him for nothing.
Free agency is now officially underway in the NBA, and it should be a pretty wild ride for Celtics fans.
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