Scotto noted that forward Miles Bridges is expected to earn a hefty payday this summer. This could put the Charlotte Hornets in a sticky situation financially. Moving Hayward would undoubtedly clear up cap space and could help the team add more flexibility moving forward.
As far as Hayward’s trade value goes, Scotto talked to several executives around the league. They told Scotto that “Hayward is viewed as a neutral asset who’s a good player, but one who’s been injury-prone the past three seasons.”
Hayward has spent the past two seasons in Charlotte and the one before that with the Boston Celtics. Over those three years, he has played in 145 regular-season games. That equates to roughly 64% of games, meaning he’s missed over a third of all regular-season games in the last three seasons.
An executive who spoke with Scotto had this to say about Charlotte’s ability to trade the veteran forward:
I’m sure they can trade him. I don’t think they’ll get off a ton of money. They’ll take players back that cost a little less.
Maybe you’re able to trade him for two pieces making $10-15 million a year. I’m sure there will be a market for him because at the end of the day, he’s a really good wing player.
Based on that prediction, one trade partner that comes to mind is the LA Clippers, who are rumored to be shopping Marcus Morris this offseason. A trade of Morris and Luke Kennard for Hayward would work financially, but it wouldn’t remove any long-term money off the books for Charlotte. It would, however, break down one large contract into two smaller ones.
With the Clippers looking to contend for a championship next season, adding a proven veteran like Hayward could be something that interests them. That being said, Kennard has been a phenomenal floor-spacer for LA, so they could be hesitant to trade him.
The Los Angeles Lakers should also be mentioned. Long-time NBA reporter Marc Stein mentioned that the Hornets are a team to watch regarding a potential Russell Westbrook trade. Although Marc Stein also noted that they would not be interested in a Hayward-for-Westbrook swap. Instead, they would prefer to receive Terry Rozier in a deal for Westbrook.
Other teams that stand out as potential trade destinations for Hayward include the Dallas Mavericks (Tim Hardaway Jr.), Portland Trail Blazers (Eric Bledsoe and/or Jusuf Nurkic sign-and-trade), and Utah Jazz (Rudy Gobert).
Obviously, some of those options are more realistic than others, but not every team has the money to match Hayward’s salary in a deal. The talent is there, but as noted by Scotto, injury concerns could also get in the way.
As the Hornets embark on their search for a new head coach, Mitch Kupchak will have other moves on his mind as well. And considering Bridges’ extension status and Hayward’s inability to stay on the court, trading him could be towards the top of his priority list.