"Rival executives believe they are hunting for a player who can play either forward spot and provide some scoring punch—exactly the kind of player they lost when Hayward left."
Hayward joined the Charlotte Hornets this offseason in a sign-and-trade that created a $28.6M trade exception for Boston.
The Celtics have missed his contributions in 2020-21 while struggling to a 17-17 record.
All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have done their part with a combined 50.2 points per game, but injuries to Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart have left the team without much scoring depth. Aside from veteran big men Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis, the rest of the rotation is mostly unproven as the squad tries to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams have played solid minutes at the forward spots, but neither can replace Hayward's production from last year (17.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.1 APG). Hayward's 42.1 percent three-point shooting from this season would especially be useful for the Celtics at this point.
Boston won't be able to get Hayward back, but there could be replacements on the trade market to help pick up some of the slack.
One potential fit could be John Collins, who is reportedly on the trade block but comes at a high price with the Atlanta Hawks seeking a lottery-level pick in return for the forward, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.