As of November 17, the Charlotte Hornets are 4-12, which places them 14th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Detroit Pistons. Injuries to LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward have played a hand in that, but the Hornets are in a hole that they may not be able to get out of, so they may have to make some trades, potentially involving Hayward.
An Eastern Conference executive revealed to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports that multiple teams may target the former Boston Celtics max player, but his injury issues are the one red flag they’ll have to keep in mind.
“Hayward is a gamble because it’s been five years since he was actually healthy,” the exec told Deveney. “But he’s only got one year after this one, and there are teams that probably need to take a gamble if they’re going to win a title—Dallas is one, and Miami. He’d be a good fit in Milwaukee or Phoenix, too, even New York. He has some versatility to his game. But again, can he stay on the floor? Is he worth the risk?”
In the last four seasons alone, Hayward has missed 89 regular season games due to injury, and that doesn’t include the 12 playoff games he missed during his last season with the Celtics in 2020.
Hayward Hinted He’d Like to Join Lakers
On October 21, the Twitter account “The Noble Savage” proposed a trade in which the Hornets would trade Hayward, among others, to the Los Angeles Lakers for Russell Westbrook.
“Best trade for the Lakers is that Russ trade to the Hornets for Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington and Kelly Oubre. We need wing depth and shooting. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner don’t fix the wing depth issue and Turner is made of the same brand of glass as Anthony Day to Davis.”
Hayward himself liked the tweet, indicating that he would like to join the Lakers in a trade like that.
Hayward has since unliked the tweet, but not before the damage was done. Whether it indicated his unhappiness in Charlotte or not, it appeared then that Hayward desired to play for the Lakers, who, as of November 17, have a record of 3-10.
Michael Jordan Does Not Want to Tank
The exec who revealed that Hayward may have suitors as the season progresses revealed that the Hornets may not be too keen on starting over as a team because of the team owner, NBA legend Michael Jordan.
“The hurdle is getting the owner to go along with it,” the exec told Deveney. “It is Michael Jordan. He has never OK’d something like that and it is not clear he would, even if it gets bad this year, even if it puts them in a good spot in the draft for Victor (Wembanyama). He has been pretty strong against tanking. Hard to see another way forward for them now, though.”
Ever since Jordan took over Charlotte in 2006, the team has made the playoffs a total of three times as a franchise, having last made it in 2016 with the likes of Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum leading the way. The Hornets have not won a playoff series in Charlotte since 2002.