Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
The Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics are reportedly working on a sign-and-trade deal centered on Gordon Hayward following the Hornets’ reported signing of the wing.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal would land Boston a trade exception, but the Hornets are attempting to involve a third team to take Nicolas Batum and his $27 million salary so they can avoid waiving him.
Wojnarowski added that regardless of how the trade discussions play out, Hayward is signing a four-year, $120 million contract to play for the Hornets as was originally reported.
Hayward declined the $34.2 million option in his contract for 2020-21 with the Celtics to become a free agent, and the Hornets quickly swooped in to sign him.
If the Hornets and Celtics come to terms on a sign-and-trade, it will mark a reversal of what happened last offseason when Boston acquired guard Kemba Walker from Charlotte in a sign-and-trade for guard Terry Rozier.
Hayward signed with Boston in 2017 after spending the first seven years of his career with the Utah Jazz. He suffered a serious leg injury in his first game as a Celtic that cost him the entire 2017-18 campaign.
While Hayward returned to appear in 72 games the following season, he clearly wasn’t the same player he was prior to the injury, as he averaged just 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 25.9 minutes per game.
Last season, Hayward was another year removed from the injury and got much closer to the All-Star level of play he displayed in Utah, averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 33.5 minutes per contest.
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Right Arrow IconIn Charlotte, the 30-year-old Hayward will reunite with Rozier and instantly become the top player on a team that boasts some promising young talent, including 2020 No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball.
Since Hayward makes the presence of Batum redundant, it comes as little surprise that the Hornets are looking to move Batum and his expiring contract.
Batum, 31, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2019-20, averaging just 3.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per game over 22 contests.
Batum was among the most versatile players in the NBA during his seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, and he was highly productive early in his tenure with the Hornets as well, including 2016-17 when he averaged a career-high 15.1 points and 5.9 assists to go along with 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals.
Batum averages 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his career.
Batum’s agent, Jeremy Medjana, told Basket Session (h/t Hoops Hype) the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have all shown interest in Batum.