NBA Rumors: Why Hornets don't need Celtics to sign Gordon Hayward

Darren Hartwell
·2 min read

Report: Why Hornets don't need sign-and-trade to land Hayward originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Goodbye, Gordon Hayward. Hello ... nobody.

The veteran forward agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, shortly after declining his $34.2 million player option with the Boston Celtics to become a free agent.

The Hornets don't have enough cap space to sign Hayward outright, so some wondered if they'd complete a sign-and-trade with Boston to free up cap room and send the Celtics some assets in return for Hayward.

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According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, however, the Hornets plan to waive wing Nicolas Batum and use the NBA's stretch provision to spread his $27.1 million cap hit for 2020-21 over the next three seasons, at roughly $9 million per year.

Waiving Batum will give the Hornets, who were already $20 million under the salary cap, enough money to sign Hayward without having to swing a trade with the Celtics, per Bonnell.

That's a tough blow for the Celtics, who reportedly were in talks with the Pacers about a sign-and-trade involving Hayward and seemingly had an offer from Indiana that included big man Myles Turner and wing Doug McDermott.

Now, Hayward will follow in the footsteps of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford as the third max-contract player to leave the Celtics in the last three years without Boston getting anything in return.

Hayward's departure does free up cap space for the Celtics, who now have the mid-level exception and two open roster spots following Enes Kanter's trade to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Hayward will be difficult to replace, though, and Boston fans can't feel good about the worst-case scenario playing out here.