NBA rumors: Hornets officially land Gordon Hayward in a sign-and-trade deal

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has acquired forward Gordon Hayward, a 2023 and 2024 second-round draft pick from the Boston Celtics in exchange for a protected 2022 second-round draft pick as part of a sign-and-trade transaction between the two teams.

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“We are thrilled to welcome Gordon and his family to the Hornets organization and Charlotte,” said Kupchak. “Gordon is an NBA All-Star, a proven scorer and playmaker and a tough competitor that will fit well into the needs of our team. We believe that his basketball talent, NBA experience and veteran leadership will make a positive impact on our young, talented team as it continues to develop.”
Boston, post-Hayward, represents the other side of the Bird rights trap. Its roster is a bit like a deflated balloon right now. The Celtics used their MLE on a big man, just like they would have anyway, and another small exception on a guard, and as a result are more or less the exact same team they would have been … except without Hayward. They can’t replace him as an over-the-cap team. It’s possible for Boston to pull off a late, dramatic save by generating a massive $30 million (or so) trade exception in a sign-and-trade with Charlotte, but even that will prove costly. The Celtics need to pony up an asset to include in the trade with Charlotte and then, almost certainly, another asset to bring a player into the exception. At a minimum, replacing Hayward in their salary structure will cost them two draft picks.
Like I said, it’s the thing every front office fears, and it just came and bit Boston yesterday. Boston had its nice little plans, and then Charlotte bulldozed them when it fell head over heels for Hayward. That forced the Celtics to either pay through the nose to keep him or lose him and struggle to come up with a remotely comparable replacement. That’s why the Bird rights trap is one of the thorniest issues front offices face and keeps execs up at night at this time of year. For 29 teams, a deal like that for Hayward was absurd. But it only takes one.
Gordon Hayward: To the city of Boston, thank you for embracing me as your own these last 3 years. I cannot say thank you enough to all the fans, my teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization I built such strong relationships with.
I know we’re always supposed to have an instant reaction in this business — not to mention a crystal ball — but I’m going to go rogue against the industry norm this time around and wait and see how this plays out. This much is clear, though: If Hayward is going to be worth this kind of money, he needs to get back to an All-Star level and lead this Hornets group to real contention in the East in the next few years. That’s a lofty goal to reach for someone who has endured such painful and unpredictable ups and downs these past couple of years. For what it’s worth, sources say he had at least one other offer available that was in this ballpark money-wise (more like four years, $100 million). Indiana, Atlanta and New York were all known to be in pursuit of Hayward as well.
Marc Stein: Indiana remains Gordon Hayward's preferred destination, league sources say, which requires a sign-and-trade with the Celtics to net the former Butler star a deal estimated in the four-year, $100 million range
Marc Stein: The Knicks remain in the Hayward hunt with salary-cap space, league sources say, but have held firm on lower figures than Indiana's Hayward has a huge admirer in Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks, I'm told, have shown some willingness tonight to go beyond an initial two-year offer
Adam Himmelsbach: With the mandatory 'anything can happen at any moment' disclaimer, one source said it appears unlikely that Gordon Hayward's situation will be finalized tonight.
Gary Washburn: #Pacers-#Celtics sign-and-trade update. Hayward wants to play in Indiana. He's told the #Celtics that. IND offering Turner and McDermott BOS wants Turner and Warren or Oladipo. That's a big difference.
Stadium: "Gordon Hayward is fully focused and wants to sign a deal with the Pacers." Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania has the latest on Hayward's potential landing spot in free agency.
Some with the Celtics have seen TJ Warren as an important piece of any Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade, but Indiana values Warren as a cornerstone, and is reluctant to move him, SNY has learned. Some with the Celtics also have seen Aaron Holiday as an important part of the package they get back from Boston in a Hayward sign-and-trade. But Indiana is also reluctant to move the young guard, per SNY sources.
The Charlotte Hornets are expected to make a push to land Gordon Hayward in free agency, league sources told HoopsHype. Hayward signed an offer sheet with Charlotte in 2014 when he was a restricted free agent, which was matched by the Utah Jazz.
If Hayward leaves Boston, it could open the door for a sign-and-trade possibility for Danilo Gallinari, who’s one of HoopsHype’s top-ranked free agents this offseason. He’s also expected to draw significant interest from the Atlanta Hawks and other teams.
Marc Stein: Indiana continues to explore sign-and-trade pathways to try acquire Gordon Hayward from Boston, league sources say The Knicks, as covered here yesterday, remain a suitor for Hayward with their salary-cap space
Mark Murphy: Hayward's opt-out viewed more as a formality. League source said it's still possible he returns to C's in restructured deal, unless, ala Al Horford, he receives home run offer from Atlanta or New York. "Gordon doesn't even know right now."
Jared Weiss: From a Hayward source earlier today, on his decision to opt in: “He legit waits til the last minute.” There are also plenty of balls in the air on potential trades and establishing market leverage for a long-term deal.
Marc Stein: The Knicks have been aggressive in their pursuit of Gordon Hayward all week, sources say Amid a growing belief leaguewide that Hayward will decline his $34 million player option for next season, New York may loom as Hayward's best option given all the Knicks' newfound cap space
Brian Robb: Brad Stevens on if he's talked to Gordon Hayward recently: "I've talked to those guys all year long. Those conversations aren't unique. As they get closer to those deadlines, I say 'If you need me, let me know.' He knows us, he knows me and this entire situation.'
Tim Bontemps: Hayward's option deadline is now officially Thursday afternoon, sources tell ESPN. Both sides get more time to assess the situation.
Gordon Hayward has until then to decide on exercising his $34.1 million player option, restructuring with his team of the last three, mostly snake-bitten seasons, or, perhaps, continuing his NBA career somewhere else. According to two league sources, the playmaking power forward hadn’t made up his mind on picking up the option as of Monday night, one expressing the belief that Hayward would ultimately opt in and remain with the Celtics.
The other pointed to what is sizing up as a ripe market. “All I know is that there’s a lot of people who want him,” said the source. Should Hayward decline his option and pursue free agency, it would mark the second straight year that the Celtics lost a prime rotational player in this fashion, with Al Horford’s flight last season to Philadelphia registering a shock cross the league.
Mark Murphy: Gordon Hayward has not decided on his $34.1 M option yet, and has until 5 p.m. tomorrow to exercise it. The Celtics have myriad options of their own to still consider. League source: "All I can say is that a lot of people want him."
The Celtics have offered their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move up, according to multiple league sources. So far, no one is biting. If the Celtics stay here, Hampton would make sense because he could serve as a spark-plug scorer off the bench. If Gordon Hayward were to leave Boston, secondary shot creation would be needed sooner rather than later.
Could Gordon Hayward be planning on a similar move this offseason? That’s the buzz according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who discussed Hayward’s future on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast. “There’s some buzz out there. And I can’t figure out what the buzz means,” Lowe said of Hayward’s potential free agency. “The buzz that I’m hearing is like the smoke, the smoke indicating that something is happening. I’m not sure what’s up, but I don’t think it’s a lock that Gordon Hayward is on the Celtics next year.”
Few teams project to have cap room this offseason. Hayward isn't going to earn close to the kind of money he'd turn down from Boston if he opts out. "Hayward is picking up his option, no doubt," the former Western Conference executive said. "[Center Enes] Kanter thinks he's better than $5 million. He should opt out."
What will Hayward do with his player option and what will his role be next season? Scotto: I think you and I can safely say a $34 million player option for Hayward is getting picked up for next season. King: When you talk to people, the assumption is he will pick that up. Obviously, with the way the salary cap uncertainty is, there aren’t going to be as many teams with cap space, to begin with, this offseason. A lot of them are younger teams that Hayward probably wouldn’t be a great fit on. I think he picks up the player option. I think that’s safe. The discussion around him mostly relates to how expensive this Celtics roster is going to get moving forward.
The Celtics head into the offseason with a group that, for the most part, should return. Hayward has a hefty player option for next season that he will likely pick up. All of the other core members of Boston's rotation will be under contract for at least next season.
Shams Charania: New player option dates for 2020 NBA free agency: Anthony Davis: Oct. 14 Gordon Hayward: Oct. 17 DeMar DeRozan: Oct. 17 Mike Conley Jr.: Oct. 17 Andre Drummond: Oct. 17
John Hollinger: Let’s start off by saying I expect Hayward to opt in, as I wrote recently, because I see an unfavorable market for his services this summer. With one exception, the teams with enough cap room to make him consider turning down $34 million from Boston are also in the midst of rebuilding … meaning going all-in on a 30-year-old who had a serious injury two years ago probably won’t be near the top of their list.
The team to worry about, at least a little, is Miami. Hayward nearly signed there in 2016 before picking the Celtics, and the Heat are absolutely in win-now mode. Miami can’t offer the same money in the short term — I project them to have $27 million in room, and that number shrinks if the current, pre-COVID-19 projected cap number ends up adjusted downward due to the ramifications from the shutdown.
Around the league, front-office executives say they expect that Hayward will opt-in. “It’s too much money to pass up,” one general manager told “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021.”
Another front-office executive, from the Western Conference, told that even before the coronavirus forced the NBA into a suspended season, he expected that free-agent conditions will give Hayward an easy decision. The only X-factor is whether Hayward has an agreement in place with the Celtics to opt-out and sign a longer deal. “There wasn’t going to be a whole lot of free-agent money on the market this summer no matter what,” he said. “That was always going to make it difficult to figure out how to opt-out and get paid. He could do that and re-sign with the Celtics and there may already be a handshake deal for something like that. I don’t know for sure but it would not surprise me.
The Celtics rely on Hayward as part of their wing-centric lineup but they may have suitors to fend off. Charlotte, who previously signed him to an offer sheet in 2014, is projected with $26.7 million in cap space. Miami, who is projected with $26.5 million in cap space, also pursued Hayward in 2017, although indications are that they want to keep the keg dry for 2021. Other teams with at least that much cap space include Atlanta, Detroit, and New York. It seems unlikely that Hayward would want to leave Boston, and none of these teams other than New York can offer Hayward a true maximum contract (projected $40.3 million starting salary). If Hayward opts out, expect him to re-sign with the Celtics on a long-term deal. He is still getting minor injuries every now and then, so it would be wise to get the security given his history.
A league source confirmed to the Celtics remain very interested in bringing back Hayward over the long-term whether or not he elects to pick up that option this summer. Price point is always going to be an area of concern for the C’s with future deals though as seen last summer when the team declined to match the hefty four-year $109 million offer from the Sixers on Al Horford (and also give up the assets necessary to make a sign-and-trade to keep Horford and bring on Kemba Walker).
It’s therefore important to know how Hayward will deal with his decision. He has $34,187,085 on his deal for next season, but can sever the contract and become an unrestricted free agent again. So what’s up, Gord? “I haven’t thought about it at all,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it at all.” At all? “Nope,” Hayward said. “I’ve never done that.”
As for his larger hoop dream, he was direct and to the point. “I want to win a championship here,” Hayward said. “I mean, that’s what my goal is. That’s what my focus is. You know, after the season, you sit down and discuss things. But right now I’m trying to play my best basketball to help us win a title. That’s my focus.”
Pat Riley on returning his 2016-17 core, "We were all geeked, happy, really about the team that we put together." On how it came together, "As soon as we found that Gordon was not going to be with us, we moved very quickly on all of them."
The news just keeps getting worse for the Utah Jazz on the Gordon Hayward front. Although not nearly as devastating a blow as losing Hayward to Boston — as the All-Star recently announced would happen — the Jazz have not been able to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics, according to sources. Barring an unexpected breakthrough in the next few days, no deal between the two teams will happen.
In the aftermath of Hayward's decision, the Jazz attempted to work out a sign-and-trade with Boston to acquire small forward Jae Crowder in exchange for Hayward, among other assets, according to sources. Those talks fell apart, however, as the week progressed. The Jazz tried to make a deal work, but couldn't find a deal the Celtics believed was worth it.
Jody Genessy: Classy move by Jazz with full-page ads in the Deseret News and SL Tribune. Not sure if they prepared multiple versions. (h/t @JazzDoingGood)
Running low on matches or lighter fluid? Don’t burn your old Gordon Hayward jersey — donate it. That’s the vision of Zach Harding, who works in Salt Lake City and whose company will be traveling to Ghana in September through World Joy, a foundation in North Salt Lake. Among the hygiene kits and school supplies that his company hopes to provide to African children, Harding thought it would be a good use of unwanted Gordon Hayward gear to offer it to them as well. "Instead of wasting or destroying your jersey, I just had a thought that maybe we can give it to people who might never have seen a jersey in their lives," he told the Tribune. "Maybe it would brighten their day over there."
Robin Hayward: I'm excited to go on this adventure with this man! It's bittersweet leaving where we've called home and grown our family, but I'm excited to see where this path takes us! We are so grateful for everything Utah has done for us! ❤️ Also, as for all the mean comments and threats. Don't forget athletes are humans too. Treat others how you would like to be treated. It would never cross my mind to speak so negatively and so full of hate about oneself or their family.
Quin Snyder: To further lament Gordon’s departure does not honor the commitment we have to our current players. Therefore, I would like to personally wish Gordon well as he and his family move on with his career. As we move forward, we’ll continue to focus our attention on the place it is most needed and wanted, our players and the entirety of the Jazz organization.”
Nonetheless, the agent said Hayward was “strongly leaning” toward Boston but was still undecided. The Celtics hadn’t heard from his camp at that point, either. “People can say now that that report was right. It was not,” Bartelstein said. “Anyone that says they knew Gordon knew what he was doing didn’t know. How could they know? Because he didn’t know.”
Boston surpassed Miami the following day after Hayward and his wife, Robyn, got the chance to spend time with Stevens, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics. “I think this is the spot,” Hayward told his agent during a phone call from the plane Sunday night. “I think this is the right place for me.” Added Bartelstein, “The whole Celtic mystique and tradition was really inspiring for him to be a part of that.”
Utah Jazz All-Star free agent Gordon Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $128 million maximum contract to sign with the Boston Celtics, league sources told The Vertical. Hayward’s contract will have a player option in the fourth year, league sources told The Vertical.
With Gordon Hayward now agreeing to a four-year $127M max contract, Celtics management now has a series of transactions to do in order to create cap space. The Celtics would have to pull the qualifying offer on Kelly Olynyk, renounce free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young, Gerald Green and waive the contracts of Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson (or trade).
Gordon Hayward: My meetings with all three teams during this process — Miami, Boston and Utah — were just unbelievable. They couldn’t have been more impressive. Each meeting left me convinced that the team I’d just met with was the right fit. And even after I slept on it last night, while I was leaning heavily in one direction … I still wasn’t 100-percent convinced about what I wanted to do.
Gordon Hayward: I know that will be tough to hear for Jazz fans — and I really want you all to know that you mean the world to me and my family. Over the past few days, I’ve been genuinely torn. And I know that this process isn’t easy on the fans, either. So I just want to be as straight-up as possible about why I’m coming to Boston.
Gordon Hayward: This has been the toughest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life. This weekend has probably been the longest weekend of my life. And today … well, today has definitely been one of the craziest days of my life. But I wanted to make sure that I got this right.
League sources said that the Celtics remained in contact with Hayward’s representatives on Tuesday, too, adding that there was little clarity about the situation on Boston’s end as of Tuesday night. When afternoon turned to evening, all sides mostly went silent, stirring rampant speculation about what the holdup might be.
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It’s no coincidence the two franchises Durant has eyed represent some kind of stability and competitive consistency, with the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat being atop his list. For all the influence Durant perhaps craved and was granted in Brooklyn, he’s a hooper first and second — with the game being the main thing with #HeatCulture and in the Suns’ building. Sources told Yahoo Sports wanting to play alongside Devin Booker is a main motivation, along with the possibility of being slated next to Miami’s resident hard-ass Jimmy Butler — two players whose attendance is rarely questioned.
Joe Ingles agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks, as announced by his wife on Twitter. I had heard and thought there was a chance Portland would bring him back despite his age and recent knee injury, but they have too many other moving parts right now for that to make sense. He’ll have to settle for being on the Mount Rushmore of Blazers legends alongside Festus Ezeli, Anderson Varejao and Mehmet Okur.
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Bulls among the teams calling about Kevin Durant

When the two-time NBA Finals MVP made it known he wanted to be traded out of Brooklyn, expected business quickly fell by the wayside as teams tried to reposition themselves to at least make an offer. According to a source, the Bulls were a part of those phone calls, despite Durant reportedly having the Heat and Suns among his desired destinations — and despite the reality that the Bulls don’t have the type of high-profile player or quality of draft picks the Nets were looking for in a trade package.
Phoenix has the kinds of players who might make this a win-win for all involved — namely, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges and restricted free agent center DeAndre Ayton. In the days before Irving’s choice to opt-in, sources close to Ayton had raised this possibility of an Ayton-Bridges deal being very much on their radar. At that time, however, it was unclear whether Durant was going to ask out.