Hornets Face Long Title Odds Despite Addition of Gordon Hayward

By in Sports on
4 Minute Read
Hayward to Hornets
  • Gordon Hayward signs a four-year deal worth $120 million with Hornets
  • Hayward opted out of his deal with the Celtics earlier this week
  • Hornets remain among major long shots to win 2020-21 NBA title (+50000)

Earlier this week, Gordon Hayward raised some eyebrows around the NBA when he decided to opt-out of his contract with the Boston Celtics for next season. The deal would have paid Hayward just over $34 million next season, but Hayward decided instead to test free agency.

In the end, betting on himself was a smart move. On Saturday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Hayward has agreed to a four-year deal worth $120 million with the Charlotte Hornets.

In order to create enough cap space to sign Hayward, the Hornets have also waived forward Nicolas Batum. Batum, who opted into the final year of his contract worth $27 million earlier this week, will likely be stretched. That means the Hornets will still owe him $9 million over each of the next three seasons, but the move creates enough space to afford Hayward’s full $30 million salary.

Hayward’s History

In 52 games last season, Hayward averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game for a Celtics team that finished with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Hayward wound up missing the beginning of Boston’s playoff run after suffering an ankle sprain during the seeding games, but he returned to play in Boston’s second-round loss to Miami.

The 30-year-old agreed to a four-year contract worth $128 million in the summer of 2017 after beginning his career with the Utah Jazz. Hayward wound up suffering a devastating leg injury in his first game with the Celtics the following fall that wound up keeping him sidelined for his entire first season with the franchise.

Hayward played well in the two seasons after his return, but he never fully regained the All-Star form he enjoyed with the Jazz. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown emerging as a pair of legitimate stars on the wing for Boston, Hayward wasn’t nearly as crucial to the Celtics’ long-term success as he was when he first arrived three years ago.

So, Hayward will look to resurrect his career with a Hornets team in the midst of a rebuild. Charlotte just drafted guard LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft earlier this week. Hayward and Ball will join a solid core of young talent that already includes Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges.

Just last summer, the Hornets lost franchise point guard Kemba Walker, who signed with Boston. Charlotte eventually retaliated by signing former Celtic Terry Rozier to a three-year deal worth $60 million. Rozier enjoyed a solid first season with the Hornets, but it’s worth wondering whether the additions of Ball and Hayward will have the Hornets looking to find a trade partner for Rozier before next season begins.

Rebuilding Hornets

Charlotte went 23-42 last season after beginning the season with low expectations. The Hornets were widely expected to be among the worst teams in all of basketball after losing Walker. A record 19 games under .500 is terrible, but it was actually good for ninth place in the dreadful Eastern Conference.

The Hornets haven’t finished with a record north of the .500 mark since going 48-34 way back in 2015-16.

The team has made just one playoff appearance since 2014-15, when they reclaimed the “Hornets” nickname.

Hayward actually signed an offer sheet with the Hornets as a restricted free agent back in 2014. The Jazz ultimately decided to match the offer to keep him in Utah, but there is a history here.

The Celtics have now lost players to max contracts in back-to-back free agency periods. Kyrie Irving fled Boston to sign a max deal with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, shortly after Walker inked his deal with Boston.

Despite the additions of Hayward and Ball, oddsmakers certainly aren’t too keen on the Hornets’ chances of competing for much next season. Charlotte’s title odds at NBA betting sites are among the worst in the league (+50000), while they are tied with the Cavs, Pistons, and Knicks for the worst odds to win the Eastern Conference (+30000).

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

View all posts by Taylor Smith
Email the author at: [email protected]