#2 The Hornets dangle the dream of cap space
The Pelicans don’t have a legitimate route to cap space ahead of 2024 free agency. C.J. McCollum is in the final year of his $35.8 million deal, but has already agreed to a $100 million extension over three years. Most of the team’s roster is secured through the 2025-25 season.
Ingram has two years remaining on his $158 million contract, worth an average of $31.6 million per year. That’s where Hayward comes into things. The veteran forward is on the final year of his current contract with the Hornets, and will become a free agent next summer.
If New Orleans believes they can work with some additional cap space next summer, and find a way of upgrading their roster in the open market, acquiring Hayward would be the best way to free up some funds. Furthermore, if Hayward can stay healthy, he would give similar production to Ingram, but would likely need a lower usage rate to get there.
Acquiring Hayward likely wouldn’t give the Pelicans max cap room next summer, but it could free up a significant amount of space to plug gaps around the roster, while a 2026 top-three protected first round pick would certainly sweeten the pot.