All along, the worst-case scenario for the Celtics was Gordon Hayward declining his 2020-21 player option and heading to free agency, with Boston getting nothing in return except a mid-level exception to use on a lesser player.
Hayward officially opted out on Thursday, and according to a new report from the New York Times' Marc Stein, there is a "growing belief" league-wide that Hayward will indeed decline his $34 million player option.
Stein adds that the Knicks have been "aggressive in their pursuit" of Hayward all week and could loom as his potential "best option" given how much cap space they have.
However, Ian Begley of SNY offers a somewhat conflicting report as it relates to the Knicks part. While he confirms the Knicks have had interest in Hayward, he says it's "seen as less likely now" after New York used its draft picks Wednesday night.
Hayward initially had a Tuesday afternoon deadline to make a decision on his option, but that was extended to Thursday.