Gordon Hayward is joining the Charlotte Hornets. How he gets there from a transactional standpoint still remains a question mark two days after the decision was made.
Initially, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported that the Hornets were preparing to stretch Nicolas Batum’s $27 million contract in order to open up the necessary additional salary cap room (about $9 million) in order to give Hayward his four-year, $120 million deal. Charlotte taking this stance with the Batum contract likely served two purposes in the hours of the Hayward signing.
1. It allowed them to commit to Hayward’s camp with no other necessary contingencies about moving other players on the roster to open up the money.
2. It allowed them to be a pretty good place from a leverage standpoint when the Boston Celtics approached them about a sign-and-trade deal for Gordon Hayward.
Two days later, that’s where we are right now in some form. League sources tell Bostonsportsjournal.com that the two sides continue to negotiate about a potential sign-and-trade deal as of Monday morning. Let's take a look at where both sides stand in the discussions and where things go from here
Why the Celtics will be pushing hard for a sign-and-trade
Losing Hayward is a big loss for the Celtics. Losing Hayward without any way of replacing him and his $34.1 million salary for the 2020-21 season would be an even bigger blow so that’s what Ainge is trying to avoid by getting a sign-and-trade done here. If the Celtics convince the Hornets (and Hayward) to allow them to sign-and-trade Hayward to Charlotte for no returning salary, they will get a trade exception worth roughly $28 million (equivalent to the first year of Hayward’s new deal). That trade exception would last for a full calendar year if it’s created, giving the Celtics the flexibility to take back salary up to $28 million in the form of one or multiple players in upcoming trades without having to send out matching salary.
This is very important for the Celtics’ team building right now since they have little movable salary on the roster. Their core (Tatum, Brown, Walker) isn’t going anywhere and everyone else on the roster makes $5 million or less on rookie or cheap deals except for Marcus Smart and new signing Tristan Thompson. Without a big trade exception in place for the Hayward departure, adding any future notable trade targets to Boston's roster gets very challenging if they are making significant salaries.
Why the Hornets should be open to a sign-and-trade
Waiving Batum is a solution to sign Hayward outright for Charlotte. However, it is not a move that comes without consequences for Charlotte. They will take a dead cap hit of $9 million for the next three seasons by waiving his $27 million salary this year, effectively tying up nearly 10 percent of their cap on nobody. That will limit their flexibility going forward to add new players to the roster so ultimately, therecould be better methods for them to clear the cap room with the help of the Celtics and potentially a third team.
Additionally, even if they are committed to waiving Batum, they should still be open to a sign-and-trade with the Celtics for