Veteran small forward Gordon Hayward was among the players who managed to get a huge payday this offseason. In the 2020 free agency, Hayward signed a four-year, $120 million contract to play for the Charlotte Hornets. Before he officially agreed to become a Hornet, several teams expressed a strong interest in adding him to their roster, including his hometown team, the Indiana Pacers.
When the 2020 offseason started, there was a growing belief around the league Hayward was interested in joining the Pacers. Despite their limited salary cap space, the Pacers tried to find ways to bring the veteran small forward to Indiana. According to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers tried to engage in a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent Myles Turner and a future first-round pick to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Hayward. Unfortunately, the deal failed to materialize.
"The Indiana Pacers offered the Boston Celtics Myles Turner, a first-round pick and a rotation player for Gordon Hayward last week, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told IndyStar," Michael wrote, as quoted by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports.
Feldman believes that the Celtics might be regretting the decision to refuse Indiana's offer for Hayward.
"Rejecting this offer looks like a mistake by the Celtics. A center who defends well (especially in the paint) and shoots 3-pointers, Turner is good. The 24-year-old is under contract at a reasonable $18 million the next three years. A first-round pick hold obvious value."
Refusing to trade Hayward for Turner and a future first-rounder is undeniably a huge mistake for the Celtics. Had they agreed with the deal, Boston would have immediately addressed their need for a starting-caliber center that would enable them to have a better matchup against powerhouse teams with dominant big men like Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets).
The Celtics may have successfully acquired Tristan Thompson, but compared to him, Turner is undoubtedly a much better center. Aside from having the size that is perfectly suited for his position, Turner would have also given the Celtics a defensive-minded big man capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc. Having a stretch big like Turner would have been very beneficial for franchise cornerstones Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as it would make it easier for them to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when they are trapped by the opposing team's defense.
The Celtics wouldn't be losing Hayward in the 2020 free agency without getting anything in return since Boston and Charlotte are also working on a sign-and-trade deal involving the veteran small forward. However, it remains a big question if they could get a package that is better than what the Pacers offered for the Indiana native.