Rumor: Knicks aggressively chasing Gordon Hayward
The New York Knicks were thought to be chasing a star point guard this offseason.
But with Chris Paul going to the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets seemingly content to retain Russell Westbrook (for now), the Knicks might miss out on their chance to acquire a star point guard. That does not, however, mean New York has struck out. At least, not yet.
Marc Stein of The New York Times reports the Knicks have been “aggressive” in pursuing Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. Stein also notes Hayward is expected to decline his $34.2 million player option, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent. If he indeed declines the option, it is a good sign he has a new deal lined up.
Ian Begley of SNY threw a little cold water on the rumor:
Filed this to SNY a few minutes ago: some Knicks decision makers have indeed had interest in acquiring Gordon Hayward. But it’s seen as less likely now that the club used its draft picks last night. Full story posting soon. Ringer and NY Times also noted NYK-Hayward interest
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 19, 2020
However, the Knicks can sign Hayward outright if he declines the player option.
New York has the second-most projected cap space after declining its team option on Bobby Portis and waiving both Taj Gibson and Elfrid Payton.
Meanwhile, Hayward actually looks like a good fit for the Knicks.
New York could use a secondary playmaker also capable of playing off the ball and spacing the floor. Hayward checks all those boxes. He averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the Celtics last season while also shooting over 38 percent from beyond the arc.
Hayward would be an especially strong get if the Knicks do not land an impact point guard, which appears less and less likely at this stage. However, they will have competition in Hayward’s market if the former All-Star opts out.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports previously reported the Atlanta Hawks — the only team with more cap space than the Knicks — also want Hayward. This could certainly lead to a bidding war between the two Eastern Conference cellar dwellers.