Gordon Hayward

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Batum, Carey

Hornets head of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak had talked for the better part of the year about not planning to make a splash in free agency. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Charlotte completed the biggest unrestricted free agent contract of the 2020 offseason, signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract.

Addressing that disconnect during his Tuesday session with reporters, Kupchak explained that he simply wasn’t expecting a player like Hayward to be available this fall.

“I did not think that we would be in a position to pursue a free agent of Gordon’s caliber,” Kupchak said, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

As for whether Hayward’s injury history made the Hornets nervous about making such a significant investment in the 30-year-old forward, Kupchak downplayed any concerns the team might have had, as Bonnell writes.

“He passed our physical with flying colors,” he said. “He’s a good age for an NBA player and keeps himself in great shape … There’s no reason to believe, knock on wood, that he won’t be healthy here the next four years.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Speaking today to reporters about his decision to join the Hornets, Hayward said the team’s interest in him back in 2014 was a factor in choosing Charlotte, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. He also sounded excited about taking on a bigger role than he had in Boston, as the leader of a young Hornets roster. “The think I like to do most is play-make and create for others,” he said. “Obviously in my career, I’ve done the scoring thing as well. I’m versatile. I can just help us try to impact our time with winning as much as possible. The pieces are there in place. Sometimes with a young team you just need to get over that initial hump to get to that next level. I’m excited about that opportunity and that challenge.”
  • Asked today about waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum and his $27MM+ expiring contract, Kupchak explained that it would have cost the Hornets multiple draft picks to dump Batum’s salary in a trade. The team may also have had to take back another (smaller) veteran contract in the deal, Kupchak added (Twitter link via Bonnell).
  • The four-year contract that No. 32 overall pick Vernon Carey Jr. signed with the Hornets will have a first-year salary of $1.35MM, followed by minimum salaries in years two through four, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The final year will be a team option, but it sounds like the first three will be guaranteed.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Beal, Wizards, Magic, Hayward

If Giannis Antetokounmpo opts to sign a five-year, $228MM super-max contract extension with the Bucks over these next few weeks, Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal will likely become the No. 1 target for the Heat, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.

Miami has diligently preserved cap space for the summer of 2021, when superstars such as Antetokoumnpo could reach free agency and ultimately meet with the team. The Heat did choose to sign centerpiece Bam Adebayo to a five-year extension and limit their cap space last week, with Adebayo and Antetokounmpo sharing the same agent.

Beal, 27, averaged a career-high 30.5 points per game this past season, shooting 46% from the floor and 35% from downtown. The Heat have several trade assets that could be used in a deal, including Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk. Antetokounmpo has yet to make a decision thus far.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington lists five questions for the Wizards entering training camp this week. John Wall reportedly requested a trade earlier this month, with general manager Tommy Sheppard recently downplaying the report and insisting their relationship remains intact. Besides Wall, the team must also decide who to start at small forward next season, with Rui HachimuraDeni Avdija and Troy Brown Jr. being the most likely candidates.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic examines whether the Magic tend to overvalue their own players. Orlando finished with the eight-best record in the Eastern Conference at 33-40 last season, losing point guard D.J. Augustin to Milwaukee in free agency. The team retained Evan Fournier after he exercised his $17.15MM player option, however, with the 28-year-old averaging a career-high 18.5 points per game last season.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer explores the implications from the Hornets agreeing to a four-year, $120MM deal with Gordon Hayward, breaking it down from a cap and roster perspective. Charlotte officially acquired the former NBA All-Star in a sign-and-trade with the Celtics on Sunday.

Hornets Add Gordon Hayward Via Sign-And-Trade With Celtics

3:43pm: The Celtics’ new trade exception will actually be worth $28.5MM, Marks clarifies (via Twitter).

2:42pm: The Hornets have completed their acquisition of Gordon Hayward, having officially added the veteran free agent forward via a sign-and-trade deal with the Celtics.

According to the Celtics (via Twitter), Boston are sending a pair of future second-round picks to Charlotte in the deal along with Hayward. Those will be 2023 and 2024 second-rounders, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As part of the trade, the Celtics will creative a massive trade exception worth the amount of Hayward’s 2020/21 salary ($27.9MM, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks). Boston will also receive a future second-round pick from the Hornets, though that pick will be heavily protected and is unlikely to change hands, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. It’ll be a 2022 second-rounder, Charania adds.

Hayward’s agreement with the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM contract was first reported on November 21 after an eventful free agency that saw the 30-year-old draw significant interest from Indiana and New York as well.

By waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum‘s $27MM expiring salary, the Hornets created more than enough cap room to sign Hayward outright. However, the opportunity to create a massive trade exception that can be used at the trade deadline or during the 2021 offseason incentivized the Celtics to explore a sign-and-trade deal.

That $27.9MM trade exception – which is the largest in NBA history, per Marks – can be used to acquire one or more players earning up to that amount without having to send out any salary, giving Boston an intriguing weapon on the trade market over the next 12 months. Danny Ainge and the Celtics’ front office determined that exception was valuable enough to give up two second-round picks.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Traded Player Exception]

From the Hornets’ perspective, the only downside of agreeing to a sign-and-trade instead of signing Hayward outright – besides helping out the Celtics – was hard-capping themselves for the 2020/21 league year. However, Charlotte remains well below the $109MM cap, so it’s safe to say the $139MM hard cap won’t be an issue. So essentially, the Hornets picked up a pair of extra second-rounders for a move they were making anyway.

For more info on Hayward’s deal, check out our original story on his agreement with the Hornets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Pacers, Hayward, Kennard, Pistons, Bucks, Bulls

In a pair of stories, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) provide a few additional details on the Pacers‘ pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency, confirming that the Celtics sought a second starting player in addition to Myles Turner in a potential Hayward sign-and-trade. That lines up with what Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported last week.

Agness says that Hayward and his family purchased a home in the Indianapolis area over a year ago and that his wife was excited about the possibility of moving back to Indiana. However, Ainge apparently drove a hard bargain in trade discussions — Michael reports that even an offer of Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player (possibly Doug McDermott, as Washburn reported) wasn’t enough to win over the Celtics.

It’s possible that the hard line drawn by Ainge wouldn’t have ultimately mattered — the Hornets‘ offer of four years and $120MM was about $15MM higher than the Pacers were willing to go, according to Agness. That difference certainly may have been enough to lure Hayward to Charlotte even if the Pacers and Celtics had agreed to trade terms.

Still, both Agness’ and Michael’s reports seem to suggest there was a window when the two teams’ inability to work out a sign-and-trade agreement may have been the only thing standing in the way of Hayward going to Indiana. According to Michael, once the Hornets put their $120MM offer on the table, Ainge wanted to go back to the Pacers to negotiate in “good faith,” but Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein “pulled the plug” on that as the veteran forward chose Charlotte.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It flew under the radar a little since it wasn’t reported as part of the initial agreement, but the Pistons gave up an eye-popping four second-round picks in their deal that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and landed them No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), those four second-rounders “appear to have been in part the cost of Kennard’s past knee issues.” However, Kennard’s camp is confident those issues are behind him, and it seems the Clippers are too, writes Lowe.
  • While the 2020 draft may not be packed with future stars, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said his club “really liked” this year’s class, which was why the team traded for multiple extra picks. “We liked the players that were in it and we just felt there were quality young men that could help continue to build our program, we were aggressive,” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Referring to Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee, the Pistons’ GM added, “Hopefully, we can look back in time and call this our core four.”
  • The failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was a bad look for the franchise, but Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) contends there’s a case to be made that the Bucks will ultimately be better off with the moves they made instead. Not landing Bogdanovic allowed Milwaukee to offer more than the minimum to add role players like D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes, and the team didn’t end up having to part with promising 23-year-old Donte DiVincenzo.
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago fields questions about the Bulls‘ surprising No. 4 draft pick and the club’s relatively quiet free agent period.

Atlantic Notes: Turner, Rivers/Howard, Gasol, Knicks

The Celtics had an opportunity to add Pacers big man Myles Turner in a sign-and-trade package deal for departing forward Gordon Hayward. Zach Lowe of ESPN believes that Turner “would probably be a Celtic” if the club really wanted to add him.

The Celtics wound up adding former Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson in free agency instead of making the trade for Turner. Turner is set to earn $18MM/year for the next three seasons, while Thompson inked a two-year deal worth $9.5MM annually.

There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • During his first video conference call with his new squad, Sixers center Dwight Howard discussed his recruitment by head coach Doc Rivers soon after free agency began last Friday, and recruit him, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “He was the first one to call me and he said we want you,” Howard said. “I’m super happy that Doc called me, that he gave me the opportunity, and I told him yes.”
  • Marc Gasol, who signed a two-year contract with the Lakers as a free agent, said it was a “tough” decision to leave the Raptors and that his run in Toronto “could not get better,” as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I’m going to miss Toronto,” Gasol said. “Toronto has been a great place, my family was very settled there, very comfortable, they really enjoyed their time.” Gasol added that the rumors of his potential return to Spain were overblown and that he never spoke to FC Barcelona (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
  • Steve Popper of Newsday indicates that the Knicks might still be in the market for talent this offseason. The team remains $8MM below the salary cap floor. Given the club’s cap space, New York might be in the mix to take back money in a trade. Popper notes that the contracts of Nicolas Batum, Victor Oladipo, and DeMar DeRozan could still be traded into cap space.
  • New Knicks coaching hire Aaron Brooks will be the first “two-way liaison” in the NBA, as Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. We passed along word of Brooks’ hiring earlier today.

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Roster, Hayward, Warren, Lamb

Don’t count on Victor Oladipo to start the season with any team besides the Pacers. Speaking today to reporters, including Michael McCleary of The Indianapolis Star, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said that Oladipo and agent Aaron Turner have both expressed that the standout guard is fully committed to the franchise.

“I think it took some time for (Oladipo) to think about what are his goals,” Pritchard said on Wednesday. “I got a call from his agent yesterday and it’s the same thing, ‘Can’t wait to get to camp, can’t wait to show that he’s healthy and that he’s 100% committed.’ And I have to take people at their word.”

Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors for several months, with one report even suggesting that he’d asked members of other teams last season if he could come play for them. A report earlier today confirmed that the Bucks and Pacers discussed a possible Oladipo trade earlier in the offseason.

However, the 28-year-old publicly committed to the organization less than two weeks ago and Pritchard sounds satisfied with where things stand. The Pacers’ top basketball executive told reporters today, including McCleary, that the two-time All-Star has formed a strong relationship with new head coach Nate Bjorkgren and that he thinks that could be “a major factor in “chang(ing) the tide in terms of what (Oladipo) feels about us.”

Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • The Pacers have 13 players on guaranteed contracts and will keep the last two roster spots open to encourage competition, Pritchard said today (Twitter link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star).
  • Pritchard said the Pacers pursued Gordon Hayward in free agency “as hard as we possibly could” (Twitter link via Michael). He added that he was transparent with the Pacers players who were discussed in Hayward sign-and-trade scenarios, so there were no surprises when those names were leaked (Twitter link via Michael).
  • Addressing the Hayward situation further, Pritchard said “it hurt a little” to miss out on the forward, since “the feedback was he wanted to be here.” Ultimately though, the Pacers didn’t feel comfortable matching the Celtics’ asking price in a sign-and-trade deal.It can’t come at a cost so debilitating that it doesn’t make sense,” Pritchard said (Twitter links via Michael).
  • The Pacers are determined to play T.J. Warren at the four this season after his success there during the NBA restart, Pritchard said (Twitter link via Michael).
  • According to Pritchard, the Pacers are hoping that Jeremy Lamb will be practicing by mid-December and back on the court by mid-January at the latest (Twitter link via Michael). Lamb is returning from a torn ACL suffered last February.
  • In case you missed it, Indianapolis will now host the 2024 All-Star Game rather than the 2021 event, which is being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Hornets, Celtics Still Exploring Sign-And-Trade Structure For Hayward Deal

NOVEMBER 25: The Celtics and Hornets have continued to work on ways to turn the Hayward deal into a sign-and-trade, with Charlotte trying to find a team that might be able to take on Batum’s $27MM expiring deal so that he doesn’t have to be waived-and-stretched, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It sounds as if the Celtics don’t have any interest in taking on Batum or another player from the Hornets, preferring to generate a significant trade exception for signing-and-trade Hayward. The Thunder and Knicks may be the two teams best positioned to accommodate a salary dump, but there would be cap-related challenges in both cases.

NOVEMBER 21: The Celtics and Hornets are still discussing the possibility of turning Charlotte’s signing of Gordon Hayward into a sign-and-trade, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Hayward reached an agreement earlier today to join the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM contract. Charlotte doesn’t have the cap room necessary to fit Hayward’s first-year salary in without making a corresponding roster move, so the team is reportedly planning to waive and stretch the final year of Nicolas Batum‘s contract, creating an extra $18MM in space.

Whether or not the Hornets intend to move forward with their plan to use the stretch provision on Batum, it makes sense to explore the possibility of a sign-and-trade.

Sending out enough salary to altogether avoid having to waive Batum would create future cap savings for Charlotte, though it’s not clear if acquiring a player like Terry Rozier or Cody Zeller would be of any interest to the Celtics after they reportedly reached deals with Jeff Teague and Tristan Thompson tonight.

Even if the Celtics don’t get anything of substance back from Charlotte in exchange for Hayward, the ability to create a massive traded player exception worth the forward’s outgoing salary should appeal to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, as that exception could come in handy at some point over the next year. Boston may be willing to send the Hornets a small asset – such as a future second-round pick or cash – in order to create a sizeable TPE.

If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, Charlotte can simply move forward with its initial plan to waive and stretch Batum.

Stein’s Latest: Williams, Clippers, Giannis, Bucks, Knicks

After adding Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard to their roster while losing Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, and Landry Shamet, the Clippers may not be done, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. A number of rival teams expect L.A. to trade away Lou Williams at some point, Stein says.

Although Williams is now 34 years old, he’s on a team-friendly expiring $8MM contract and remains a very talented scorer, having averaged 18.2 PPG off the bench in 2019/20, so he’d certainly draw interest if the Clippers put him on the trade block.

Interestingly, Stein notes that the Clippers made it a top priority this offseason to make “dramatic chemistry changes.” There were reports last season of tension in the locker room based on what some incumbent players viewed as preferential treatment for new Clippers stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. While he doesn’t specify whether it was related to those issues, Stein says that team officials “quietly decided (Harrell) had to go.” The Sixth Man of the Year ended up with the rival Lakers.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest newsletter:

  • For weeks leading up to the offseason, there had been “promising rumblings” about the Bucks‘ ability to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo to a super-max extension this fall, according to Stein. As Stein explains, there was an increasing belief that Antetokounmpo would opt for long-term financial security and reserve the right to ask for a trade down the road if he becomes dissatisfied with the situation in Milwaukee. The Bucks are now in wait-and-see mode, with Giannis expected to soon arrive back in the U.S. from Greece.
  • People around the NBA are wondering if the Bucks gave up too much to acquire Jrue Holiday, having surrendered three first-round picks and two pick swaps for the standout guard, writes Stein. However, he contends that if Holiday and Antetokounmpo end up sticking around beyond 2021, Milwaukee’s “all-in approach will be redeemed.”
  • After initially offering Gordon Hayward a two-year deal in free agency, the Knicks increased their offer to four years and remained in the chase for the veteran forward “throughout the process,” according to Stein, who notes that head coach Tom Thibodeau is an “admirer” of Hayward. Ultimately though, Charlotte’s four-year, $120MM was at a level that neither New York nor any other suitor was willing to match.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Bryant, Wall, Heat

The Hornets made one of the biggest and most controversial splashes in free agency, signing injury-prone forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract. Due to injuries and the development of his Boston teammates, Hayward was never able to return to his All-Star form while with the Celtics.

Although the Hornets’ $120MM commitment to Hayward is widely viewed as an overpay, it didn’t come out of left field. In today’s edition of The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe of ESPN suggests that the Hornets’ offer to Hayward was not significantly higher than that of some competing clubs hoping for his services in free agency.

“You want to clown the contract?” Lowe said (per RealGM). “That’s fine. Just know it’s not like the Pacers and the Celtics were offering $80MM. They weren’t offering $120MM. But my best intel is something like $105MM, $108MM, $102MM, $110MM.”

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines Hayward’s fit with the Hornets, conceding that the deal is probably an overpay. However, he also contends that Hayward can supply veteran leadership to the Hornets’ young core while being by far their best player, if healthy. Hayward will be leaned on to supply multifaceted scoring and is an expert play-maker. He also will be able to convincingly slot into the lineup at small forward, power forward, and even shooting guard.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said today that the team informed every center it spoke to in free agency that Thomas Bryant would remain the Wizards’ starter, according to Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “Certainly probably rubbed some guys the wrong way who thought they could come in here and start,” Sheppard said. The club ultimately signed Robin Lopez to back up Bryant.
  • Beyond the churning NBA rumor mill, Wizards point guard John Wall has remained active during the offseason. Wall will purchase an ownership stake in the Australian NBL club the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Los Angeles entrepreneur Romie Chaudhari heads the ownership group for the Phoenix, which also includes and Cavaliers reserve guard Dante Exum, plus retired big men Zach Randolph and Al Harrington and retired swingman Josh Childress.
  • Point guard Goran Dragic and backup center Meyers Leonard are excited to return to the Heat, according to Joe Beguiristain of Heat.com. Miami prioritized re-signing both players to lucrative two-year contracts with team options for the second year. “When free agency hit, we pretty much made our quick deal,” Dragic commented. “First of all, it felt like there was unfinished business for our team and for me because, obviously, going through the ankle injury was not easy, and I feel like I could have helped in many different ways,” Leonard said.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Hayward, Raptors, Bulls, Wizards

It has been a frenzied week of NBA roster moves since the league lifted its months-long moratorium last Monday, but there have been no updates on perhaps the biggest storyline of the offseason, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. As Windhorst points out, the league is still waiting to see whether or not reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will agree to a five-year, super-max extension with the Bucks.

League sources tell Windhorst that the Bucks – in recent weeks – have moved from “cautiously optimistic to cautiously confident” that Antetokounmpo will make a long-term commitment to the club when he returns from Greece. However, moves made by other teams across the league this week suggest that not everyone on the outside views it as a lock.

Clubs that have long been cited as likely free agent suitors for Giannis if he reaches the open market in 2021 went to great lengths this week to preserve their cap room for next summer. The Heat, Mavericks, and Raptors were among the teams that made an effort to keep money off their books for next season — in some cases, it may have even cost them key free agents.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • While a panel of analysts at The Athletic agree that the Hornets‘ four-year, $120MM deal for Gordon Hayward is an overpay, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that the forward did have another four-year offer in the $100MM range. It’s not clear whether it was the Pacers or another team that made that offer.
  • In negotiations with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, it was clear the Raptors prioritized their future cap flexibility over keeping the free agent centers in Toronto for 2020/21, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who says the team knew it might have to take a step backward in the short term in order to achieve their ambitions in the long term.
  • While losing two more key pieces from their 2019 championship roster will be a tough pill to swallow for the Raptors, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca warns not to assume the club will take a big step backward in 2020/21.
  • The Bulls entered the offseason needing to fortify their wing rotation, which is why they agreed to sign Garrett Temple and bring back Denzel Valentine, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Temple is a good teammate and a versatile veteran who can play multiple positions, while the Bulls like Valentine’s ability to shoot, pass, and rebound, Mayberry writes.
  • Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post makes a case that the Wizards need to reboot their roster by trading both John Wall and Bradley Beal.