Gordon Hayward has agreed to ink a four-year, $120 million free-agent contract with the Charlotte Hornets, his agent confirmed to ESPN on Saturday, in what many pundits consider a surprising signing by Hornets owner Michael Jordan.
Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics plays after being injured during the first quarter against ... [+] the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 19, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Getty Images
Hayward, 30, initially signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Boston Celtics in 2017.
Earlier this week, he chose to decline his $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 season, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Hornets have approximately $20 million in cap space, which means they will have to make additional roster moves before Hayward can sign.
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is reporting that the Hornets will waive and stretch forward Nicolas Batum to create the cap space necessary (Batum will take up $9 million in cap space over each of the next three seasons).
After suffering a devastating lower leg injury in his first game with the Celtics back in 2017, Hayward worked his way back to nearly 100% in 2020. Over the final three months of the 2019-20 regular season, he averaged 18.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.8 made 3-pointers, while shooting 49% from the floor, 41% from downtown and 85% from the free-throw stripe. Over the past couple of days, it was widely reported that although the New York Knicks were interested, Hayward's preference was to join his hometown Indiana Pacers. However, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, "the strong lure of going home to Indiana and a persistent Knicks bid could not override the splashiest spending of Michael Jordan's Charlotte ownership."
Over his 17-year NBA career, Michael Jordan's total on-court earnings summed to just $97.3 million (or, $22.7 million less than what Jordan will pay Hayward for only four seasons of service.)
The other big signing announcement Saturday was free-agent point guard Fred VanVleet agreeing to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors for four years and $85 million. According to ESPN, VanVleet's $85 million pact is the largest total value for any undrafted player in NBA history.
Watch To Watch For:
The NBA and the league's players union have agreed that players who elect not to play in the upcoming 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic must notify their team of their decision by Dec. 1, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Players who elect not to play will reportedly be prohibited from signing a contract for which the 2020-21 season is covered.