Gordon Hayward apparently has proven his worth to his employers.

The Boston Celtics want the forward to remain with the team over the long term, an NBA source confirmed to BostonSportsJournal’s Brian Robb on Tuesday. Hayward’s contract will expire after next season, but he can opt out of his four-year, $128 million deal this summer and enter free agency a year ahead of time. Regardless of what Hayward decides this summer, the Celtics reportedly will try to convince the 29-year-old to agree to stick around for years to come.

Hayward is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds in 4.0 assists on 51.2 percent shooting in 35 games this season. He finally has established himself as a key playmaker in the Celtics’ offense and has demonstrated he has recovered fully from the gruesome leg and ankle injuries that ruined his debut season with the team and hampered the next one.

Rival teams reportedly have called the Celtics about trading for Hayward, but he’s among the five “core” players Boston wouldn’t consider dealing prior to the NBA trade deadline. We now can presume that’s because the Celtics intend to keep Hayward in Boston for the foreseeable future.

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