Six years ago, Gordon Hayward signed a $63 million offer sheet with Charlotte that Utah was forced to match.
This time Charlotte got their man: Hayward is headed to Charlotte on a four-year, $120 million contract, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Charlotte has to make some moves to clear out another roughly $10 million in cap space to do this signing, or this will be a sign-and-trade (Terry Rozier going back to Boston makes it work, or Cody Zeller). However, Charlotte clearly has a plan.
Boston ends up with nothing, as for the second year in a row, a top free agent walks (last year it was Kyrie Irving).
The Hornets are overpaying for Hayward — he will not lose much of the $34.7 million he opted out of with Boston — but for a smaller market like Charlotte that’s what they have to do to land the biggest names (even with Michael Jordan as owner). The expectation of most around the league was Hayward would go home to Indiana in a sign-and-trade, but Charlotte’s over-the-top offer won the day. Most teams in the mix for Hayward (Indiana, Atlanta, New York, even Boston) were thinking more like four-years, $100 million at most.
With this contract, Hayward gets the security of four years, something that matters to a player just a couple of years removed from a horrific leg injury that almost ended his career.
Charlotte now pairs Hayward with first-round pick LaMelo Ball to create an interesting team.
Last season in Boston, Hayward showed flashes last season of returning to the All-Star level player he was before his injury but was not consistently at that level, and it showed in the postseason. He averaged 17.5 points a game playing at an above-average but not quite All-Star basketball during the regular season. However, when faced with the more focused defenses of the playoffs his scoring dipped to 10.8 points a game with below-average efficiency.
Charlotte hopes it can find out how Hayward performs in the playoffs this year.