Hornets' Updated Roster, Starting Lineup with Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, More

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2020

Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) attempts a shot during the second 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

The Charlotte Hornets are having quite an offseason. 

On Saturday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the team signed veteran wing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract. 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Hayward signed an offer sheet with Charlotte in 2014 as a restricted free agent. Utah matched and kept him. This time, Charlotte gets Hayward.

It's another splashy move after the team drafted LaMelo Ball No. 3 overall Wednesday. So, what will the Hornets look like next season? Here's one possible configuration:

  • PG: Terry Rozier
  • SG: Devonte' Graham
  • SF: Hayward
  • PF: P.J. Washington
  • C: Cody Zeller
  • Bench options: Ball, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Jalen McDaniels

Somebody will have to come off the books to make the Hayward signing work, however. That will almost assuredly be Nicolas Batum:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

The Hornets will waive Nic Batum to create cap space to sign Gordon Hayward, reports @rick_bonnell.

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

In a sense, if the Hornets are waiving and stretching Nic Batum, they are spending an average of $39M a year for the next three years for Hayward. Hayward = $30M Batum = $9M in dead money

The Hornets have an intriguing roster with the addition of Hayward, though they also have a backcourt logjam, namely at the point, where Rozier, Graham and Ball will fight for minutes.  

There will be a debate whether a player like Rozier or Graham could be moved to free up playing time for Ball and to perhaps bolster the frontcourt. They offer comparable resumes, with perhaps one clear distinction. 

  • Rozier: 26 years old; averaged 18.0 points and 4.1 assists last season while shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from three; due $18.9 million this season and $17.9 million next season.
  • Graham: 25 years old; averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists last season while shooting 37.3 percent from three; due $1.6 million this year before hitting restricted free agency next offseason. 

Graham is the better player, a year younger and far cheaper this year. If the Hornets had to choose, they'd surely prefer to move Rozier, especially with Graham likely to get a hefty payday next summer. Waiving Batum means the Hornets could also simply play the two together, mixing in Ball and Monk off the bench. 

If nothing else, the presences of Rozier and Graham mean the team can bring Ball along slowly.

One way or another, this Hornets roster will look different before the season starts because of salary-cap restraints. Batum will just be the first domino to fall.