NBA Rumors: Hornets Expected to 'Make a Push' for Gordon Hayward in Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2020

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) handles the ball during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Miami Heat on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LaMelo Ball may not be the only notable player the Charlotte Hornets add this offseason.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the team is "expected to make a push to land Gordon Hayward in free agency." Scotto noted Hayward almost joined the Hornets in 2014 as a restricted free agent and signed an offer sheet with them, although the Utah Jazz eventually matched it.

Bringing Hayward aboard may not be as simple as just signing him.

Scotto explained Charlotte has $19.4 million in available cap space and may need to complete a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics and perhaps another team to add the Butler product. There is also the fact the Hornets will likely compete with a number of suitors, as Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (h/t RealGM) said he is "fully focused" on joining the Indiana Pacers.

Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday that the forward opted out of his $34.2 million contract option with the Celtics.

There are some durability concerns for whichever team signs the 30-year-old.

He suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2017-18 campaign and missed significant time in the 2020 NBA playoffs. Still, he averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season and connected on 38.3 percent of his triples.

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It was Hayward's best performance since joining the Celtics and went a long way toward answering questions about whether he would ever return to the All-Star form he demonstrated on the Jazz.

At his best, the veteran could slide into Charlotte's lineup on the wing and take advantage of Ball's notable passing skills by hitting from the outside and slashing to the lane. He would likely be the team's go-to option in crunch time as well as it looks to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.