After getting blown out in a season-ending defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA’s play-in tournament, the Charlotte Hornets need to shake their roster up. Despite rostering tons of talent, the Hornets finished with the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and were embarrassed in the play-in contest for a second consecutive season.
De'Andre Hunter provides the perfect backup for Trae Young as the Hawks send the Hornets packing from the Play-In 😎
They face the Cavs next for the chance to play the Heat 🍿
22 points 24 points
7 rebounds 10 assists pic.twitter.com/iDKmr20XEn
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 14, 2022
A big priority for the Hornets will be to trade former All-Star forward Gordon Hayward. All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball and combo guard Terry Rozier serve as the main ball handlers for the club, while forward Miles Bridges is on the edge of stardom. Thus, Hayward’s talents are best utilized on another team.
Hayward missed 33 games to injury this past regular season, including 26 of Charlotte’s final 27 contests due to an injured foot. He was unavailable for the play-in debacle and may have played his final game with the Hornets. In two seasons with Charlotte, Hayward has averaged 17.6, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists across 92 contests.
Reports indicate that Hayward is most focused on recovering his injured foot, but is open to a trade this offseason. The 32-year-old still has two years remaining on his contract and is owed $61 million in that time frame. He’s far from a valuable trade asset given his mammoth contract, but his track record in the NBA still makes him a player worth exploring for opposing clubs.
There have been some rumblings about a possible Hornets-Lakers trade involving Hayward and Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers don’t make this list here. Let’s look at three teams that could trade for the one-time All-Star.
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Gordon Hayward trade destinations
3. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings missed the playoffs for the 16th consecutive season, the worst stretch of futility in league history. The Kings are anxious to end that streak—as evidenced by the stunning in-season trade of young guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers for veteran Domantas Sabonis—and will be open to any moves that could help them return to the playoffs.
Charlotte could take advantage of Sacramento’s desperation and offer Gordon Hayward in a trade. The Hornets would presumably target center Richaun Holmes in any deal. Holmes is a talented scoring big man, but he has become expendable following the Kings’ acquisition of Sabonis.
Below is what a potential trade between the Kings and Hornets could be constructed as:
Kings receive: Gordon Hayward
Hornets receive: Richaun Holmes, Justin Holiday, Moe Harkless, Alex Len
For the trade to work contractually, the Kings would need to throw in Justin Holiday, Moe Harkless and Alex Len into the swap.
A potential roadblock to a trade occurring this offseason is Holmes’ serious legal situation. He is accused of abusing his 6-year-old son, allegations Holmes has denied. If Holmes were to be ever charged with domestic violence, a deal with the Hornets would be out of the question and the center would likely face a long suspension.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Just like the Hornets, the San Antonio Spurs were bounced from the play-in tournament after finishing 10th in the Western Conference. The Spurs must make some roster tweaks to support budding superstar point guard Dejounte Murray.
Outside of emerging forward Keldon Johnson, the Spurs lack wing talent. Hayward could help in that department and can play alongside Johnson, who primarily served as the team’s power forward this past season.
The Hornets, who are in desperate need of a true center, would like to pry Jakob Poeltl away from the Spurs. Poeltl, 26, had a stellar campaign in 2021-22, finishing with per-game career highs in points (13.5), rebounds (9.3) and assists (2.8). Furthermore, he ranked fifth in the NBA with 1.7 blocks per contest.
In order to acquire Poeltl, the Hornets would likely have to throw in a first-round pick to make the death worthwhile for the Spurs. Here’s what a trade centered on Hayward and Poetl could like:
Spurs receive: Gordon Hayward, 2024 first-round pick
Hornets receive: Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott, Keita Bates-Diop
Doug McDermott’s contract—which pays him $13.75 per season through 2024—is used in the deal (as is Keita Bates-Diop’s) to make the trade financially possible for both clubs. For the Spurs, they land another scorer in Hayward, who can aid Murray. As for the Hornets, they grab a center they covet in Poetl.
1. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have to find superstar guard Luka Dončić a reliable sidekick. Admittedly, Gordon Hayward is no longer suited to be a team’s second-best player. However, his scoring prowess could help a team that relies so heavily on Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie, who was acquired in the middle of this regular season.
Charlotte could seek defensive-minded center Dwight Powell in a deal with Dallas. They would also likely target role players such as Davis Bertans, a sharpshooting power forward, and 3-point specialist guard Reggie Bullock in a deal. Bullock could be on the move this offseason, given that Tim Hardaway Jr. (out for the playoffs with a foot injury) will return to action next year and with Dinwiddie also in the fold.
The Hornets have star firepower and could be looking to acquire multiple reliable players who know their role. With that in mind, here is what a deal between the two sides could look like in the offseason:
Mavericks receive: Gordon Hayward
Hornets receive: Dwight Powell, Davis Bertans, Reggie Bullock
The Mavericks grab another scorer to take some of the burden off Dončić by acquiring Hayward. Meanwhile, Powell, Bertans and Bullock are three pieces bringing their own different expertise to enhance Charlotte’s roster.