Video: Gordon Hayward 2020 playoff and bubble highlights

Here are Gordon Hayward's highlights from the seeding games and the 2020 playoffs courtesy of Tomasz Kordylewski. Hayward finally was able to show what he was capable of as a Celtic this season. Since the Jay's emergence, Hayward was willing to play more of a facilitator/ play maker role. Unfortunately, Gordon went down with a serious Grade 3 ankle sprain during the 1st game of the playoffs, which ruined his overall season.

Hayward showed a lot of Celtics pride by battling back and returning during the Eastern Conference Finals. Even at far less than 100% he provided a much needed spark off the bench which led the Celtics to a key victory over the Heat in his first game back. Alas his attempts to tough it out, while noble, were not enough as his ankle got worse as the series progressed. He looked extremely immobile in the final Game 6 loss. Hayward also decided to stay in the Bubble and play instead of leaving to be home for the birth of his son during this pandemic.

Moving forward, Hayward's future looms large for the Celtics offseason plans. Ainge and Stevens were able to woo Gordon from Utah in 2017 with a four year max contract (less than what the Jazz could pay and offered. Also less after taxes than the Heat's max offer). As part of that contract, Hayward had a player option for the fourth and final season. As we've written before, max 4 year contracts with a player option for the final year are essentially 3 year contracts with the player having some liability insurance for a 4th season if something catastrophic happens. If the player is still capable of performing at any where near a high level, they almost always decline the option to become a free agent or renegotiate an extension. The Celtics walked down this path last offseason with Al Horford.

The Celtics would be wise to sign Hayward to an extension, since if he walks, they will NOT have any of his $34 million owed to spend on a replacement. And even if you see Hayward at this point as more of a Manu Ginobili off the bench player, you definitely should want the Celtics to retain that over signing some scrub to the vet minimum.

The other more complicated option is a sign-and-trade. But that also depends on how desperate the other team is cap wise. The Celtics tried to sign-and-trade Horford after they knew for sure he was leaving, but Philly had the cap space and also had zero desire to help out the Celtics.

It sucks that Hayward had that horrific devastating injury his first game as a Celtic. Luckily, it was not career ending and he able to return the following season, though that was more of a rehab season as these injuries take time. It was a similar path to what Paul George went through> Both players then looked much more like their old selves in their second season backs. Unfortunately, the ankle injury occurred in Game 1 vs Philly.

Hayward is still young enough to return to his former All-Star self. With that in mind, as well as the fact that the Celtics would have zero cap space to replace him, I'd be very hesitant to let him go right now.

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