The news dropped in the midst of conflicting reports that suggested Hayward was either going to complete a sign-and-trade that would have sent him to the Indiana Pacers or potentially ink a long-term deal either with the Boston Celtics or with another team. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Jordan phoned Hayward late Friday night in an attempt to seal the deal for the Hornets.
Michael Jordan called Gordon Hayward late last night in an effort to close the deal for Charlotte, Hayward tells ESPN today. Hayward obviously remembers how MJ and Hornets signed him to an offer sheet in restricted free agency in 2014.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 21, 2020
Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets Agree To A 4-year, $120 Million Deal
For Jordan and Hayward, this deal was a long time coming. Hayward, who was a free agent back in 2014, agreed to a four-year offer sheet, worth a maximum of $63 million with the Hornets before the Utah Jazz matched Jordan’s offer, which kept him in Utah for three more seasons before he ultimately left for Boston in 2017.
Jordan’s phone call, which came 24 hours after Hayward turned down his $34.1 million, one-year player option to stay with the Celtics, was enough for Hayward to make a final decision.
As expected, NBA Twitter’s comical response to the surprising news didn’t disappoint.
Gordon Hayward after finessing MJ and the Hornets for $120 million pic.twitter.com/NamwZfyTPj
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) November 21, 2020
Did The Boston Celtics Stand A Chance Against MJ?
For the second consecutive offseason, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge saw one of the biggest free-agent signees of his tenure walk out the door without any compensation. In 2019, Al Horford and the Philadelphia 76ers shocked the Eastern Conference when news of Horford’s new four-year max deal, worth $109 million, came out.
Now, Hayward, who inked a four-year deal, worth $128 million with the Celtics three years ago, could end up doubling his total earnings in Boston within the next four years. While Ainge and Hayward managed to extend the deadline on the final year of his four-year contract, the Celtics failed to find a sign-and-trade suitor during the NBA Draft before Jordan phoned Hayward himself.
Still, all potential Draft Night trades aside, would it have made a difference? Jordan, who most likely had this plan in place the moment Hayward declined the option just before Thursday evening’s deadline, had a bag of money with Hayward’s name on it and at $120 million, no sign-and-trade or other team was going to top what MJ was offering.
Coming off of a 23-42 season, the Hornets finished 3.5 games shy of the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot but a promising regular season campaign from Charlotte’s new backcourt scoring tandem signals better times are ahead.
Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham both averaged 18 points, including Rozier’s 42.3% shooting clip from behind the 3-point arc to go with Green team-leading 7.5 assists per game. Hayward’s playmaking ability should make life easier for the two.
And so will Hayward’s efficient scoring. As the third option in the Celtics’ offense, he managed to carve out 17.5 points while connecting on half of his attempts (50% from the floor), including 38.3 % from deep.
He also averaged 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season for Boston.