With his time in Charlotte possibly ending soon, Gordon Hayward talked to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about his three-plus years with the Hornets, which he admits have been “up and down.” Hayward has an expiring $31.5MM contract that makes him an attractive trade chip, and Scotto reported last week that several contenders have already called about his availability.
“There have been moments where it’s been really fun with big-time wins,” said Hayward, who came to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade deal in 2020. “There have been a lot of moments where I was injured my first two years at the beginning of the year. They were unfortunate injuries. Those suck. There’s nothing you can do about that. It’s sports, and it happens.”
Hayward has been healthy this season and has helped the Hornets remain competitive, averaging 14.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists through 17 games. He’s enjoying his role as a veteran leader and discussed several of his young teammates with Scotto. He said Brandon Miller is exhibiting unusual poise as a passer for a rookie, LaMelo Ball has developed a more complete game and Mark Williams has the potential to become an elite defender.
“He’s got a great feel for the game,” Hayward said of Willians. “In Utah, you could see the same thing with Rudy Gobert. Initially, he’s young and kind of like Bambi out there, but you can’t teach that defensive feel where they have good timing and know when to help or when to play cat and mouse. Offensively, he’s got great hands and catches just about everything. He’s still going to get better and has a ways to go, but I think he’s definitely taken a step, and he’s certainly got a bright future.”
There’s more from Charlotte:
- The Hornets plan to bring Nick Richards along slowly in his return from a concussion, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Richards missed six games while he was in the league’s concussion protocol and played just nine minutes in his first game back Saturday night. “(Have to watch) more so just his minutes because most injuries when guys are hurt, they can still do cardio and not lose a great deal of conditioning over a couple weeks,” coach Steve Clifford said. “With him and a concussion, he wasn’t able to do anything. … He’s going to need a few games to just get his conditioning level back.”
- Clifford was impressed by Miller’s determination to keep playing after turning his ankle in Tuesday’s game, Boone adds. “You don’t get a lot of younger players who are like that anymore,” Clifford said. “He went out there in the second half and actually played pretty well. He was limping around a little, but he has more of an old-school type outlook on this game.”
- In a separate story, Boone looks at how Miles Bridges was able to return to an elite level so quickly after his 10-game suspension.