The Gordon Hayward wait is over. In a bit of a shocker, the veteran swingman has agreed to four-year deal worth $120 million with the Hornets, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. The Hornets only have $19 million in cap room as of this afternoon, so it's likely they will need to make additional moves including a potential sign-and-trade with the Celtics in order to pull off the Hayward deal.
According to Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, the Hornets plan on waiving Nicolas Batum and his $27 million expiring salary (giving the Hornets an extra dead cap hit of $9 million over the next three years) to free up the money necessary for Hayward's $30 million annual cap hit. That would be the worst case scenario for the Celtics, since it would not allow them to create a trade exception for Hayward’s lost salary or take back any movable salary in the deal that could help them moving forward. The bet here is sign-and-trade talks re-emerge if the Celtics offer something to sweeten the pot enough for Charlotte to take part, but the Batum story is a signal that they don't need the C’s to get Hayward (a big difference from the Pacers trade negotiations).
Ultimately, this is pretty close to a worst-case scenario for the Celtics. The Celtics played hardball with the Pacers thinking that Hayward would not sign outright with a subpar East team and Hayward got the money and opportunity he wanted in Charlotte so he took it.
Hayward isn't a good value signing for Charlotte at that money with his injury history, but it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the Hornets ended up being a legitimate landing spot. Hayward signed an offer sheet in Charlotte back in 2014 as a restricted free agent (Utah matched it), so he clearly doesn’t mind the idea of playing/living there. He also has the chance to be a No. 1 option on a team again while getting paid like a max player ($30 million a year for his next four years is a big overpay for the Hornets). All four years are guaranteed.
There will be a lot of time to analyze what went wrong and why with Hayward walking out the door for the Celtics here, but the attention in the immediate future now turns to an uncertain Celtics roster situation. A reminder of where they stand.
Ballhandling Gs: Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Peyton Pritchard, Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters (two-way)
Wings: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford (injured), Javonte Green (non-guaranteed), Semi Ojeleye (non-guaranteed)
Bigs: Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Tacko Fall (two-way)
The Celtics have shown interest in free agent power forward Paul Millsap according to a league source, but there are also plenty of other suitors out there for him. Millsap headlines a very short list of available free agents that are worthy of mid-level money at