Former Max-Contract Celtics Star Could Join Knicks Next Season: Sources

Gordon Hayward’s time with the Boston Celtics didn’t go as planned after the franchise inked him to a four-year $128 million max contract back in 2017.

Since leaving Boston, Hayward’s injury issues have continued, with the veteran wing making a total of 135 appearances for the Charlotte Hornets. Nevertheless, one Eastern Conference GM, who was speaking with Heavy on Sports Sean Deveney, under the condition of anonymity, believes that Hayward could emerge as a target for the New York Knicks this summer.

Hayward ➡️ Tatum

The Celtics are firing on all cylinders!

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 31, 2019

“They will be in a position to do something smart in the offseason,” The GM said,” That could be getting a guy like LaVine or if the Heat shop, Jimmy Butler, maybe something happens there. But they can take a chance on a guy like Gordon Hayward; he will be in the final year of his deal.

Thibs likes him; he always has. He has not been able to stay healthy so you can get him for a small outlay, a couple of picks, and a bad contract, like Evan Fournier and Isaiah Hartenstein, and maybe a first-rounder plus a second-rounder, something like that. If he is healthy, now you are a Top 4 team in the East. If he is not, the contract is up in a year. That is the kind of thing I’d look for from them.”

Hayward spent three seasons with the Celtics, averaging 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 48.4% from the field and 35.7% from deep before leaving the team via the sign-and-trade that saw Kemba Walker move to Boston.

Chris Mannix Sends Joe Mazzulla a Stark Warning

While the Knicks have been experiencing one of their best moments of the season, the Celtics have hit somewhat of a rough patch since returning from the All-Star break, leading prominent analyst Chris Mannix to send a warning to Joe Mazzulla.

“They’re like the ‘Benjamin Button’ Celtics, they’re doing everything in reverse… you’re just seeing them play with the precision that we saw at the end of last season.”@SIChrisMannix on a ‘moment of truth’ for Joe Mazzulla as he grapples with the team’s recent struggles 🍀

— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 7, 2023

“They’re like the Benjamin Button Celtics. They’re doing everything in reverse. Last year, they started the season blowing big leads, playing sloppily, not having late-game execution, and then they figured it out,” Mannix said, “This year, they played great to start the season. And now, it feels very familiar, where you see a 20-point lead that evaporates, late-game execution – that’s not there…This now is a moment of truth or moments of truth for Joe Mazzulla…He’s gotta get in their heads in the locker room; he’s gotta get Grant Williams’ head right. He’s gotta get Rob Williams back on the floor…Rob Williams needs to get out on the floor as soon as possible; he needs to stay out there on the floor. Because, without him, they have no chance of beating any of the top-tier teams in the Eastern Conference.”

The Celtics snapped their losing streak by beating the Portland Trail Blazers on March 8 and will now head into their six-game road trip with renewed confidence and a sense of urgency.

Celtics Could Trade Payton Pritchard This Summer

No player has been a casualty of the Celtics’ success this season more than Payton Pritchard, as he’s seen his role within the roster evaporate since the arrival of Malcolm Brogdon this summer.

When speaking to Heavy on Sports Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, an Eastern Conference GM noted how the Celtics could have three viable trade partners for the sharpshooting guard during the off-season.

That’s a DEEEEP 3 from Pritchard 🎯

— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 12, 2023

“There are definitely some teams to watch there. Orlando had an interest, they are not that sold on their options at point guard—(Markelle) Fultz has had so many injury troubles, Cole Anthony needs the ball so much, (Jalen) Suggs is more of a two-guard. If they are going to run things through Paolo (Banchero) then a guy like Pritchard, who can manage the game, take good care of the ball, and make his shots when needed, is a good fit.It is just a matter of, can he defend?

Pritchard is Danny’s guy, too, don’t forget. Ainge would love to get him back, and have him in Utah. The Jazz have the Sixers’ pick in this draft; something could get done there. Cleveland asked about Pritchard, too, from what I understand. They have some concerns, long-term, about depth at point guard, and about Ricky Rubio’s health,” The executive told Deveney.

Pritchard was a significant part of the Celtics rotation that went to the NBA Finals last season; as such, there will likely be plenty of teams interested in his services should the Celtics decide to part ways with the floor-spacing guard. For now, though, Pritchard will continue to offer guard insurance to a stacked Celtics team that harbors hopes of another deep playoff run.

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