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Rumor: Celtics’ Gordon Hayward eyeing ‘Al Horford plan’ this offseason

Gordon Hayward, Celtics, Al Horford

Boston Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward has a $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 NBA season, one he would seemingly accept given the financial state of the league and the uncertainty of free agency.

However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports there is a possibility Hayward will opt out in search of another long-term deal in the latest iteration of the Lowe Post podcast.

Lowe said there’s some “buzz” suggesting Hayward might not be on the Celtics next year. Lowe’s guest, ESPN Insider Bobby Marks, believes Hayward’s agent is employing a similar strategy as Al Horford last offseason:

“I think what his agent Mark Bartelstein is doing right now is canvassing the league. He’s doing the Al Horford plan,” Marks said, via John Karalis of MassLive.com.

Marks is referencing Horford’s stunning decision to leave the Celtics and sign with the Philadelphia 76ers after the Sixers offered him a four-year, $109 million deal in free agency, with $97 million of that guaranteed.

Granted, there’s no telling if teams around the league will be willing to offer Gordon Hayward a long-term deal, given his lengthy recent injury history. Not to mention, the 30-year-old would be leaving a lot of salary on the table.

Additionally, there are not a lot of teams with cap space. A sign-and-trade would be more likely, but the Celtics obviously do not have to move Hayward if they do not like the return value.

Marks wondered whether the Atlanta Hawks — one of the teams with cap — could be in the market for Hayward as they push to be more competitive this year. The Indiana Pacers have also been rumored as a possible destination, though that would have to be a trade.

In any case, it seems Gordon Hayward will scout out his own worth around the league, and he might jump at the chance for more security at a decent value if he can get it.