Report: Knicks 'have been aggressive' in pursuit of Gordon Hayward originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
All eyes are on Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward ahead of Thursday's 5 p.m. ET deadline for him to decide whether to exercise his player option for the 2020-21 NBA season.
Hayward would become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $34 million option.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, one team that's interested in Hayward is the New York Knicks.
The Knicks have been aggressive in their pursuit of Gordon Hayward all week, sources say
Amid a growing belief leaguewide that Hayward will decline his $34 million player option for next season, New York may loom as Hayward's best option given all the Knicks' newfound cap space
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 19, 2020
The worst case scenario for the Celtics is Hayward opting out and signing with another team, which would prevent the C's from trading him in any fashion and getting something in return.
The Knicks are one of the few teams with an abundance of salary cap space entering the start of free agency on Friday.
New York reportedly has declined a team option on Bobby Portis, and also waived both Taj Gibson and Elfrid Payton, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Tuesday. These moves will give the Knicks just under $40 million in cap space, second only to the Atlanta Hawks for the most in the league.
Hayward would be the best player in free agency if he declines his option and hits the market, but it doesn't really make sense for a rebuilding team like the Knicks to give huge money to a veteran with a lengthy injury history.
That said, the Knicks have made very few wise decisions in free agency over the last 20 or so years, so you can't rule out anything with New York.
Injuries have limited Hayward's availability throughout his three seasons in Boston. He's played pretty well when healthy, and scored 17.5 points per game last year, but the veteran forward hasn't been able to consistently stay on the floor.