Should the Charlotte Hornets trade Gordon Hayward?

Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

Should Gordon Hayward’s time in Charlotte come to an end? That is the question being posed here as the Hornets may have to consider their future with the 33-year-old veteran small forward. Hayward is entering the final year of his four-year $120 million free-agent contract he signed prior to the 2020-21 season. With $31.5 million owed to Hayward for the upcoming season, Charlotte may be inclined to shake things up with a trade of their current highest-paid player.

The idea of trading Gordon Hayward is not a new one. In fact, this very idea has been tackled previously on Swarm and Sting with three mock trades in addition to a proposal of the Utah Jazz reacquiring the former face of their franchise on The J-Notes. Hayward is still a productive player in this league and could help the Hornets’ cause as they look to be competitive this season. Having the experience and veteran presence of Hayward is an unquantifiable asset for what is still a very young core in Charlotte. Being able to draw on when facing adversity is very valuable and can help guide some of those inexperienced players through those tough times.

Speaking of those young players, those are who should be getting the majority of the minutes in Charlotte. It is a well-known fact that head coach Steve Clifford loves his veterans, but it is pertinent that the players who lead the Hornets into their next era of competitiveness receive an acceptable amount of playing time. If a trade of Hayward must be made in order for the correct amount of minutes to be distributed to players who need it in order to develop properly so be it. Anything and everything must be on the table when it concerns the future of the franchise.

The Hornets must keep the big picture in mind

Even though the Hornets have their eyes set on being in the postseason mix this season, their best years are clearly ahead of them. Because of that, if an acceptable trade proposal came their way they would be wise to consider it. By the time this group of Hornets players gets in position for postseason play and not be an easy first-round knockout, Hayward will be long gone.

This is not to say that the Hornets should be actively shopping Gordon Hayward, just that they should be listening to any prospective offers. There is nothing wrong with listening, all it shows is that they are actively looking to make improvements to their roster. For a team like Charlotte, making the right additions to their current roster configuration can help them get to where they want to go, and in order for that to happen they must listen to offers on players who are considered movable.

There is not a rush to get anything done currently, but getting the wheels in motion now will allow a deal to be completed quickly further down the line, perhaps in an NBA trade deadline day scenario. For that reason, talking to teams now about Gordon Hayward rather than waiting would prove to be beneficial if they ultimately decide to trade him.