Gordon Hayward will reportedly end up with the Charlotte Hornets after all.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Saturday — and multiple others soon followed — that Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with the Hornets. The deal comes six years after he signed an offer sheet with them as a restricted free agent, which the Utah Jazz matched.
Hayward’s contract comes after he opted out of the final year of a four-year deal he signed with the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2017. He was named an NBA All-Star earlier that year, and the Jazz hoped to re-sign him in free agency, but he joined his college coach Brad Stevens in Boston, infamously announcing his decision on the evening of July 4.
The Celtics and Hayward had lofty aspirations, but just minutes into his first game with the team, Hayward suffered a horrific leg and and ankle injury. He’s been a solid player since returning in 2018, but the rise of young forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have reduced him to a supporting role.
With Hayward’s player option due, there’d been chatter recently that he wanted to leave Boston. Many speculated, however, that opting out would force him to choose between making $34 million next season and signing a longer deal elsewhere worth less money annually.
His agent, Mark Bartelstein, has proven adept at getting his clients great deals, however, and Hayward will still be paid roughly $30 million annually over the next four years.
On the downside, he’ll be joining a Charlotte team that won just 23 games last season. The Hornets on Wednesday selected LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.