from Blecher Report’s Scott Polacek;
This comes after Bartelstein told Wojnarowskithat his 30-year-old client opted out of his $34.2 million contract option with the Celtics and became an unrestricted free agent.
Before he did that, there were trade rumors circulating involving Hayward. Ian Begley of SNY reported in October that members of the Indiana Pacers front office were interested in trading for him, while Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (h/t RealGM) reported the Celtics offered him to the New Orleans Pelicans with the hope of landing Jrue Holiday before he was shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Of particular note, Begley wrote: “It’s hard to see Hayward opting out of his deal without the assurance of a long-term extension in place.”
Hayward was an All-Star in 2016-17 for the Utah Jazz when he averaged 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He was and remains someone who can hit from the outside, score over smaller defenders in the lane and provide timely rebounding from the wing.
When he came to the Celtics, the expectation was he could help put the team over the Eastern Conference hump and into the NBA Finals.
Instead, he suffered a season-ending injury in his first game in 2017-18 and averaged just 11.5 points per night the following year as he worked his way back from that setback. It was his lowest mark since he was a rookie in 2010-11.
Hayward was better last season and averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three-point range. The team fell short of the NBA Finals, though, and he suffered an injury in Game 1 of the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers, not returning until Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Alongside injury concerns with Hayward, and he turns 31 years old in March.
Still, the Hornets can at least take solace in the fact that he played well in 2019-20 as it looks to parlay this move into a postseason appearance.
Charlotte is taking steps toward being competitive in the Eastern Conference with Hayward joining No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball on the team. The front office likely has more work to do before making the Hornets a playoff team, but this is a step in the right direction.