Gordon Hayward got a 4-year, $63 million offer from Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets, and for some reason, people thought it was stupid.
A quick reminder about NBA free agency: If you’re not in a marquee market or on a contending team with top shelf players, you’re going to have to slightly overpay to get players you want to fit in your system. San Antonio? Doesn’t have to overpay as long as Duncan/Pop are at the Alamo. Neither do Oklahoma City (Durant/Westbrook), the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics (but did they overpay Avery Bradley?), and you get the picture.
Charlotte Hornets? They qualify as a team that has to overpay. First, folks scoffed when the Hornets gave Al Jefferson $40.5 million. Then, they made the playoffs.
As the 7th seed in the East last year, Charlotte has a nice nucleus – Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker – but sorely lack one thing: perimeter shooting. The Hornets were 23rd in the NBA in 3-point shooting last season; only one playoff team (Chicago) was below them. The Bulls traded for Doug McDermott in the draft; surely you’re aware of what he did at Creighton.
Yes, Hayward only shot 31 percent last year from deep … on a horrendous team with a rookie point guard. Nobody on Utah logged more minutes or took more shots or got to the line more than 23-year old Gordon Hayward. Of course he struggled as the No. 1 option on a young, terrible team. The smart move is to project what Hayward will be over the next 3-4 years in a lesser role on a better team. The groupthink: He’s not worth it based on last year!
Hayward will be a clear upgrade from Gerald Henderson. He’ll be a No. 3 option offensively, which is an ideal spot for the former Butler star. He’s a good teammate, a good locker room guy (will balance oft-troubled draft pick PJ Hairston) and most importantly, Charlotte will have options down the stretch in games: Hayward/Kidd-Gilchrist/Hairston/Henderson will battle for late wing minutes. And remember, they’ll have Jeff Taylor coming back from injury and Chris Douglas-Roberts on the bench as well.
Yes, they’ll miss Josh McRoberts at stretch four, but once the LeBron/Carmelo/Bosh dominoes begin to fall, someone will emerge as a replacement. This kind of the depth, the East, should put the Hornets in contention for the 5-6-7 seed.