Known as “Morton’s neuroma” surgery, the procedure addressed the left foot discomfort that Hayward played through last season and required about four weeks for the incision to heal, according to Amick, who notes that the Hornets were well aware of when they made their four-year, $120MM offer to Hayward and were comfortable with his medical status.
In an extensive conversation with Amick, Hayward also spoke more about his free agency process, his time as a Celtic, and a handful of other topics. Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:
On the teams that were in the mix to sign him in free agency:
“Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in. … New York was in the mix — the Knicks. Indiana was another team that was really interested, and we had mutual interest for a while. Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too. There were just a lot of options, and a lot of potential teams that I could go to, but I’d say those were the main ones. Atlanta, New York, Boston, Indiana, and then Charlotte obviously.”
On why he ultimately chose the Hornets:
“I talked to a lot of people about Charlotte, and have talked to a lot of former players, teammates, about Charlotte. And nobody has ever said a bad thing about Charlotte as a city. Everyone loves it in Charlotte.
“… I think the opportunity to go somewhere, get a fresh start, be in a position to try to maximize my potential as a basketball player, I think, going somewhere where I’d have the ability to try and help a franchise get to that next level, it grew on me more and more after talking to the coaching staff, talking to the front office, obviously talking with my agent and my wife and family. That challenge kind of resonated with me. Talking with (Hornets) coach (James) Borrego, and more and more it was like, ‘Man, this is something I think I really want to do,’ so we just went with it.”
On how he’ll look back on his three years with the Celtics:
“Obviously it was disappointing with how everything played out there. A lot of it is just not under my control. I would have never imagined myself getting injured my very first year there and missing the whole year, having a serious injury. That’s obviously very disappointing. Last year, I feel like I played really well, and I feel like our team was in a really good position and I get injured again — like, a fluke injury — the first game of the playoffs. I honestly shouldn’t have come back and played, but tried to play through it and wasn’t able to be myself, so I don’t think we had our full team there at the end.
“… I have no regrets about anything that happened in Boston, and I really appreciate all the fan support — for supporting me through a wild ride of ups and downs.”