Hawks in play for Gordon Hayward trade or free-agency signing

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Gordon Hayward could be on the way to join the Atlanta Hawks.

The Boston Celtics are still very much in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, but general manager Danny Ainge knows he needs to make one or two more moves if they want to truly take that next step. Unloading Gordon Hayward could be the first step in remaking that roster, and Hayward’s next destination might end up being one of the East’s younger squads in need of some veteran moxie.

The Celtics have been looking to get rid of Hayward’s contract, and they might have a taker in Lloyd Pierce and the Atlanta Hawks via trade, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. Atlanta could look to add him as a free agent as well if he opts out of the remaining $34.2 million on his contract.

Gordon Hayward hasn’t been the same player since his injury

Hayward was an All-Star with the Utah Jazz, but he chose to sign a massive contract with Boston during the 2017 offseason in order to link up with former college coach Brad Stevens. Unfortunately for Hayward, his frightening injury in his first game as a Celtic has robbed him of his All-Star form, as he has averaged just 13.9 points per game in three seasons with Boston.

While Hayward bumped his numbers up to 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on tidy .500/.383/.855 shooting splits this season, his defense has fallen off in recent seasons, and that probably isn’t the best move for an Atlanta team that had one of the worst defenses in the league last year.

Trae Young is one of the most mercurial offensive players in the league, and Atlanta’s young core of Young, Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter could be good enough to challenge for a playoff spot if they add one more bona fide star. Picking up a player with the injury history of Hayward is extremely risky, and Atlanta should probably shop around elsewhere before committing to him.