The Knicks may not be battling Boston for the chance to make the World’s Most Famous Arena — Madison Square Gordon.
The chance for the Pacers to bring former Celtics star forward Gordon Hayward back to home to Indy, where he was raised and led Butler to two NCAA Finals Fours has gained major traction.
According to a source, the Pacers are the front-runner for Hayward and trying to land him via a sign-and-trade. The Pacers don’t have the cap space but names such as Aaron Holiday and Myles Turner have come up.
In fact, the only two teams with major cap space to sign Hayward are the Knicks and Hawks. Atlanta is not interested according to a source. The Knicks have interest in Hayward and two Jazz alums are on the Knicks staff. But Hayward prefers to go home.
New assistant general manager Walt Perrin drafted Hayward in 2010 with the 10th pick. And recently hired assistant coach Johnny Bryant coached Hayward for years before he left for Boston in 2017 and saw his All-Star trajectory take a downturn.
The Knicks have $35 million in cap space entering Friday night’s free-agency opening. The Post previously reported the Knicks would need to deliver an offer of at least two-to-three years at $20 million per.
The Knicks also are in the market for a veteran point guard who can be a starter. D.J. Augustin, Jeff Teague, Kris Dunn on their list. Goran Dragic has re-signed with Miami.
If the Knicks don’t land Hayward, they have interest in Washington’s Davis Bertans, who was to meet with the Wizards first at 6 p.m.
The Knicks would prefer to engage the Celtics in a sign-and-trade, too, in which they can shed some salary. With the drafting of forward Obi Toppin and the addition of Hayward, Julius Randle becomes more expendable.
Hayward, 30, is a perfect add as a playmaking forward who shoots well from 3-point range and was an All-Star in 2017 before shattering his leg. He averaged 17 points on 50-percent shooting from the field in 2019-20. His recent decline led to speculation he would opt into his $34 million final year with Boston, but he threw a curveball by opting out Thursday.
His agent is Mark Bartelstein, who had three clients waived by the Knicks Thursday in Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Wayne Ellington. One of the two, Gibson or Portis, have a legitimate chance of returning on lesser deals.