The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. The move, by far the largest of this year’s free agent class, comes on the heels of Hayward’s decision to not exercise his player option with the Boston Celtics.
Hayward turned down a $34.5 million player option in 2020-21 and had been linked to the Indiana Pacers. News of Hayward’s signing in Charlotte thus comes as somewhat of a surprise.
Hayward enjoyed a bounce back campaign in 2019-20 after battling back from injury issues in his first two seasons with Boston. He was, of course, an All-Star the last time he was fully healthy, as a member of the Utah Jazz.
Hayward’s commitment to Charlotte comes six years after a previous one. As a restricted free agent in 2016, Hayward signed a four-year, $63 million offer sheet with the franchise but that was ultimately matched by the Jazz.
In order for Charlotte to onboard Hayward at that price tag, they’ll need to get creative. SLAM’s Keith Smith writes that the Hornets could accommodate such a deal if they unload salary ahead of time, either through a trade or potentially waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum.
A sign-and-trade, too, is always an option.