3 Perfect potential trade destinations for Hornets’ Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Draft day buzz, blockbuster trades, and superstar signings in free agency – the NBA offseason contains many exciting moments that shape the following season. Hidden behind the influx of fresh talent in June and seismic roster shifts atop the league in July, rarely does anyone mention the weeks between the NBA Summer League and the start of preseason play. These are the weeks dominated by mock trade proposals and offseason workout videos that may fool you into believing Ben Simmons has developed an outside shot.

Speaking of mock trades, Charlotte Hornets’ forward Gordon Hayward has been the focal point of numerous trade proposals over the last few years. Since arriving in the Queen City in 2020, the former all-star has posted respectable numbers, averaging 16.6 PPG, nearly 5 RPG, and 4 APG. However, Hayward has yet to play more than 50 games in a single season for the Hornets, and his numbers have been steadily declining over the past two campaigns.

Even though his best days are behind him, the 13-year veteran has showcased an ability to produce at a high level in short stretches and could be a valuable pickup for a contending team looking to get over the hump. In the final year of a 4-year/$120 million-dollar contract signed in November 2020, Hayward embodies all the characteristics of an NBA trade candidate. Here are three franchises that we could see Hayward suiting up for at some point this season.

1. Gordon Hayward joins LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers

Gordon Hayward trade, Charlotte Hornets
Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets & LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports) /

The Los Angeles Lakers are being discussed as a potential landing spot for a former All-Star…stop me if you’ve heard this song before. Don’t worry; I’m not here to grasp at straws to find Kyrie Irving a path to Hollywood. Unlike some outlandish trade proposals in recent years, Gordon Hayward to LA makes sense – here’s why.

Much of the basketball world was surprised to see the Lakers re-sign point guard D’Angelo Russell after his horrendous Western Conference finals performance. Russell inked a two-year contract worth $36 million in guaranteed money during free agency this past summer. However, this isn’t your typical free agent contract, and the details of the agreement began trickling out in the following days. Russell waived his implied no-trade clause when he signed the new deal, meaning he is almost certain to be flaunted as a trade chip to the rest of the league.

LeBron and the Lakers will undoubtedly be active in the trade market around the deadline, maybe sooner if their season gets off to a rocky start. If Los Angeles strikes out on big-name stars such as Kyrie, Gordon Hayward won’t be too far down their list of targets. A combination of Russell’s contract and Rui Hachimura’s $15.7 million salary perfectly match Hayward’s expiring deal. If the Lakers throw in young talent such as Max Christie or a couple of second-round picks as a sweetener, Charlotte will be enticed to negotiate.

Hayward would provide an instant boost to the Lakers’ second unit. With Austin Reaves now a mainstay in the starting lineup, the bench lacks playmaking ability and leadership. Hayward would likely thrive in an initiator role off the bench while closing certain games alongside James, Reaves, and Anthony Davis. Don’t be surprised if this happens – we’ve consistently seen LeBron-led franchises part ways with young talent in favor of building a win-now roster, and Hayward fits the bill.

Acquiring Gordon Hayward may not be the big splash Los Angeles dreams of at the deadline. Still, his combination of veteran leadership and on-court production could be the perfect addition to a team with lofty aspirations and an extremely short timeline.