Report: Why Gordon Hayward may not land with Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Atlanta Hawks reportedly are one of many teams interested in Gordon Hayward. But is the feeling mutual?
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Tuesday that Atlanta is "in play" to acquire the Boston Celtics forward, who now has until Thursday at 5 p.m. ET to accept or decline his $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 season.
Haynes also reported that Hayward has "plenty of interest" in joining Atlanta. But The Athletic's Jared Weiss shared some intel later Tuesday that suggests the 10-year veteran isn't gung-ho on playing for a mediocre Hawks team.
"According to a person familiar with Hayward’s thinking, the 30-year-old former All-Star wants to continue to be a core part of a winning team and would not want to go to Atlanta," Weiss wrote.
The Trae Young-led Hawks have plenty of upside but had the NBA's fourth-worst record last season still aren't close to being a contender. As Hayward enters his 11th NBA season, it makes sense why he'd want to compete for a playoff team, especially after the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference finals in three of his four seasons on the roster.
So, where could Hayward end up if not Atlanta? Weiss pointed to the Indiana Pacers, who reportedly have interest in the Indianapolis native, as a strong candidate.
"What Hayward wants is to maximize the prime of his career, to fill the role he knows he is capable of after all the injuries and constant questions about how they’ve affected him," Weiss wrote. "It’s why Indiana is such a great fit, as Hayward can go home and be a focal point of the offense on a team still in position to take the next step into contention."
Hayward's return to the Celtics shouldn't be ruled out either, as Boston fell two wins shy of an NBA Finals berth last season. But if the one-time All-Star wants a bigger role in an offense, he won't find that on a team led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker.