Why Gordon Hayward Going To Charlotte Wasn’t Really Surprising

Gordon Hayward Charlotte Hornets

  • Gordon Hayward signed a four-year $120M deal to play for the Charlotte Hornets.
  • Hayward also signed a 2014 deal with Charlotte but the Jazz matched the offer.
  • Michael Jordan reportedly sealed the deal when he called up Hayward on Friday night.

One day after Montrezl Harrell shocked the world by going to the other side of Los Angeles, Gordon Hayward pulled off a surprise when he signed a four-year $120M deal with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

Hayward’s first surprise move came two days earlier when he opted out of the $34M player option of his contract with the Boston Celtics. Now, Howard has orchestrated perhaps a bigger coup d’etat than Harell.

Celtics Wanted Too Much

The Celtics were reported to be working with the Pacers for a sign and trade deal involving Hayward. The Indianapolis native made it known that the Pacers were one of his preferred destinations because he wanted to play for his hometown team. But sources say that Danny Ainge wanted too much and the teams could not agree to a deal. Now the C’s have lost Hayward without getting anything in return.

Boston could have salvaged a trade that would’ve given them an immediate replacement, at least in terms of quality not necessarily a player of the same position. Instead, they are left to fill Hayward’s void using the mid-level exception in a free agent market that continues to dwindle by the day.

But while the Celtics are at a loss on how to replace Hayward, the Hornets finally have their man. A lot of people are questioning why Charlotte would offer Hayward the sun and the moon given his inability to return to his All-Star form and you can’t blame them. But don’t say that Charlotte just picked him out of the blue.

Not The First Offer

Back in 2014, when he entered his first free agency, the restricted type, Hayward was offered a four-year $63M deal by the Charlotte Hornets, then led by Rich Cho and Steve Clifford. Of course, the young Gordon Hayward signed the deal but the Jazz later matched it and kept him because it owned his Bird rights.

Despite staying put in Utah, Hayward showed his appreciation to Cho, Clifford, and team owner Michael Jordan for wanting him and making him feel like a critical piece to the team they were building. According to Hayward, he was impressed not just with the money on the contract but by Charlotte’s entire presentation.

After the Jazz matched the offer sheet, Hayward thanked the Utah organization for believing in him. He then rewarded them with a breakout season in 2014-15 and he would go on to increase his scoring average in the next three seasons while earning All-Star honors in 2017, his final year with the Jazz.

Values Being Valued

When you take a look at Gordon Hayward’s NBA career, he’s a guy who’s taken the big contracts offered to him. But with Hayward, it’s not just about the money. He’s a guy who values being valued by a suitor. That’s how he felt when the Hornets tried to sign him six years ago. That’s how his game responded when Utah matched the offer.

It’s easy to believe that Charlotte’s 2014 pitch factored into Hayward’s decision to sign with the Hornets again. Although Hayward was coming off an impressive season in Boston, he was still not back to his old All-Star self. Given the severity of the injury he suffered, there is no guarantee that he will return to his old form. But that did not prevent the Hornets from sending the Brink’s truck to his doorstep. That must’ve played a part in Hayward’s decision.

If the reports are correct that Michael Jordan made a phone call to Hayward on Friday night to close the deal, that’s what sealed the deal. When the owner of an NBA team, and the NBA’s greatest player ever at that, calls you in the middle of the night to guarantee you $120M to play for his team, that’s the ultimate trust. The money obviously fattened his wallet. But the Jordan phone call inflated Hayward’s ego and made him feel special. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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