Grading what the Hornets did at the NBA trade deadline

Jan 22, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20), guard Terry Rozier (3), and forward PJ Washington (25)
Jan 22, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20), guard Terry Rozier (3), and forward PJ Washington (25) / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 5

Move #3:

Hayward Trade

Grade: A-

It remains to be seen exactly how these draft picks will be conveyed to the Hornets, but regardless, I’m ecstatic about getting anything at all for Hayward. I had accepted that no team would be willing to make a move for the oft-injured Hayward, in the last year of a $31.5 million contract.

So I was thrilled to see that the Thunder were willing to trade for the 33-year-old who hasn’t played since December 26th with a calf issue. Perhaps Hayward has been healthy enough to play, and choosing not to, but that’s neither here nor there.

This seemed like it was heading for a situation where the Hornets would be faced with the choice of losing Hayward for nothing or being forced to re-sign him to a deal that could potentially eat up the books for several more years while he watches from the bench.

The Hayward experiment was a complete failure and letting him expire for nothing would’ve been the cherry on top. He had no more utility to the Hornets, so getting something back was already a win.

Hopefully, at least one of the second-round picks has some decent value potential and can be another asset for the Hornets to work with. Bertans is just a matching salary at this point in his career. His contract isn’t guaranteed for next season, so the team can let him go, or keep him on the books to potentially use in another deal next season.

Mann is an interesting prospect. The 6’3” point guard is an outstanding shooter and can, at least, take over the backup duties from Ish Smith. He just turned 23, and just hasn’t had a runway to develop on a suddenly good and deep Thunder squad.

There’s a chance that Mann can carve out a major role and become a real part of the rotation. The Hornets get to see how he looks the rest of this season with a change of scenery, then can exercise a team option to keep him this offseason for $4.9 million, let him walk, or re-sign him. He’s the perfect kind of young player to take a cheap, no-risk flier on.

Vasilije Micic is a useful guard with decent size. The 30-year-old Serbian, in his first year in the NBA, is a former Euro League MVP and has shown glimpses of his prowess for the Thunder. He could be a steadying presence for the Hornets offense, as a great passer, and somebody who can run a lot of pick and roll.

In the first year of a very reasonable 3-year, $26.5 million deal, Micic could also have a ton of appeal to contenders down the road. That should be a deal that’s easy to move, and the Hornets will likely have a chance to flip him for more assets in the next couple of years.

None of the assets returning to Charlotte in this deal are major needle-movers, and it may end up proving to be a hodgepodge of ‘meh’, but it’s hard to overstate how much I like the idea of this deal, and being able to get anything out of the terrible Hayward contract.