Hornets want to trade Gordon Hayward, along with No. 13 or 15 pick

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Hornets want to trade Gordon Hayward, along with No. 13 or 15 pick

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Hornets are aiming to trade Gordon Hayward and either their No. 13 or 15 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. One of their first-round draft picks is to accommodate the team for accepting Hayward’s salary. The 13-year veteran will make $31.1 million next season. Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak is aware of his team’s salary cap predicament.

Furthermore, Miles Bridges is awaiting his contract extension. He earned $5,421,493 this past season. Now, the Hornets are unsure on whether or not Bridges is worth a five-year, $173 million max extension. If they re-sign Bridges to a long-term deal, Hayward is definitely gone.

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In a total of 49 games played in the 2021-22 regular season, Hayward averaged 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. So, he is decent when he’s on the court. However, most of all, the forward has never played a full season in his entire NBA career. He played the most games in the 2015-16 season with the Jazz, finishing with 80 game appearances.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Hayward underwent surgery to repair a fractured tibia and dislocated left ankle. Not to mention, he dealt with a right foot sprain during the 2020-21 season. This injury occurred after he signed a four-year, $120 million deal with the Celtics, as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets in 2020.

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Will the Hornets trade Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier for Russell Westbrook?

Considering the forward is an injury-prone player, it would be unwise for any team to offer Hayward a maximum contract at this point of his playing career. Terry Rozier’s four-year, $96 million contract is something to think about, too. In the event the Lakers decide to trade Russell Westbrook to the Hornets, it could work in G.M. Kupchak’s favor to unload Rozier and Hayward together. That could be on the agenda.

And Westbrook is owed $47,063,478 for the 2022-23 season. Keep in mind, he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists with the Lakers last season. Unless Westbrook returns to his 2019-20 season form — when he averaged 27 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with the Rockets — he’s not the biggest upgrade for the Hornets. Team chemistry has been an issue for nearly every contending team Westbrook has played for.

Moreover, it would be disingenuous for anyone to hint that Hayward is not worth a reasonable contract. In his Hornets’ debut on Dec. 23, 2020, he finished his performance with 28 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in their 121-114 loss to the Cavaliers.

Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, he scored a career-high 44 points in the Hornets’ 109-94 win over the Hawks. Again, he is a solid wing when he’s healthy. With two years left on his contract, perhaps Kupchak has seen enough. The Hornets could use another All-Star player, especially considering the head coach position is still vacant. But if the team shops Rozier and/or Hayward, Westbrook might not be the answer.

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