After losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics enter the NBA offseason with a couple of key contract decisions on the horizon.
The most notable one involves Gordon Hayward, the franchise's marquee addition in the summer of 2017.
Unfortunately for Boston—and, really, every neutral NBA fan—the impact of his signing basically had a two-year delay. Hayward suffered a devastating leg injury in his Celtics debut and only returned to a normal starting role last season.
According to HoopsHype, Hayward has a $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 campaign. Between his health history and a dramatically altered short-term revenue outlook for the league, the expectation is Hayward will stay in Boston.
"Hayward is picking up his option, no doubt," a former Western Conference executive told B/R's Eric Pincus.
Consequently, the Celtics will be flirting with the luxury tax.
John Hollinger of The Athletic noted league executives believe the tax will remain at or around 2019-20's level of $132.6 million. As long as Hayward's $34.2 million is on the books, it's implausible that Boston will not surpass the mark.
Hayward, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum combine for $115.3 million. Daniel Theis has a $5 million team option, while Romeo Langford, Vincent Poirier and Grant Williams are due $8.7 million together. That leaves just $3.6 million available for six roster spots, and that's not happening.
And we hadn't even mentioned veteran big man Enes Kanter—who holds a $5 million option of his own. He might not be back anyway, though.
"It's looking more likely at this point that he is going to opt out and test the market," Jared Weiss of The Athletic said.
Kanter averaged 8.1 points and 7.4 rebounds during the regular season but held a lesser role in the playoffs. He played just 9.3 minutes per game, providing 4.5 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Another important note is that Kanter's decision may not finalize his home for next season.
"There is always the possibility he will opt-in with the understanding that the Celtics will use his salary for a draft-night trade," Weiss noted. "So even if Kanter exercises the option, it may not ensure he will be in green in 2021."
Since the Celtics are seemingly destined for the wrong side of the tax line, Kanter is financially expendable. However, they shouldn't be rushing to ditch his contract for performance purposes. He would still be a valuable piece next year.
On the other hand, Boston has young potential replacements in Grant Williams and Robert Williams. If Kanter opts out, the Celtics don't need to explore a raise to bring him back, either.
In all likelihood, Hayward will return to Boston in 2020-21, while Kanter does not. But the fallout from those decisions will be a key storyline for the Eastern Conference's outlook.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.