New York, NY-The 2020 group of NBA free agents are going to be real interesting to see where some will find a home.Free agency officially kicked off on Friday, and there have already been some unpredictable movements throughout the league.
One of the surprising move in the league was free agent Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics. Hayward declined his $34 million option for next season in Boston. Hayward, who has averaged 14 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 36 percent 3-point shooting the past two seasons for the Celtics after suffering a leg injury in 2017, inked a four-year, $120 million, fully guaranteed contract with the Charlotte Hornets. After being relegated to the fourth option at times with the Celtics, Haywood figured he take his talents somewhere else.
Hayward had a rough three years in Boston after signing a four-year, $127.8 million contract in 2017.
He suffered a wicked foot and ankle injury six minutes into his regular-season debut with Boston, causing him to miss the rest of the season. He struggled with his game in 2018-19, his first full season back, later in the season he got comfortable with pushing off the ankle and he averaged 17.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 52 games.
The Hornets isn’t just paying more cash for Hayward than Boston did. It’s paying a higher percentage of the cap for his services. The 2017 cap was $99,093,000. On average, his deal cost the Celtics $32 million per year. That’s around 32.3 % of that cap. Charlotte’s deal, with Nicolas Batum factored in, will cost an average of $36,750,000 per year against a $109.14 million cap, or around 33.4%.
Hayward also was troubled by other assorted injuries in Boston, breaking a bone in his hand in November and dealing with nerve pain in his foot in December before suffering a Grade 3 sprain of his right ankle in Game 1 of Boston’s first-round playoff series against the 76ers inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort.
He did return in the middle of the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat, but couldn’t find his groove as Boston eventually lost in six games in its third trip to the conference finals in the past four seasons.
When healthy Hayward has produced, averaging 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists with the Celtics. Last season, he became the first Celtics player to average at least 15 points on 50% shooting since Kevin Garnett in 2011-12.
Boston have lost two max contract players to free agency in the past two years — Kyrie Irving and now Hayward.
For the Hornets to make room for Hayward’s contract, they waived Batum’s $27.1 million expiring contract. That move will spread out Batum’s cap hit over the next three seasons.