After trading Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets may not be done shaking up their roster ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Rumors suggest that former NBA All-Star forward Gordon Hayward could be next.

NBA Rumors: Charlotte Hornets Likely to Split With Former All-Star

Gordon Hayward Career Breakdown

The Utah Jazz selected Hayward with the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Hayward spent seven seasons with the Jazz, his last being his lone All-Star selection. Hayward averaged 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game in these seven years.

During the 2017 offseason, Hayward signed a max contract with the Boston Celtics, reuniting him with his college coach, Brad Stevens. In his first game with the Celtics, Hayward fractured his tibia and dislocated his ankle, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. However, Hayward made a full recovery and played 72 games with the Celtics during the 2018-19 season. The Butler alum spent one more season with the Celtics before joining the Hornets in the 2020 offseason via sign-and-trade. While with the Celtics, Hayward averaged 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.

As a member of the Hornets, Hayward is currently averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game through parts of four seasons.

Why the Charlotte Hornets May Trade Hayward

Despite still playing quality basketball, averaging 14.5 points per game this season, Hayward is turning 34 years old in March. Plus, Hayward has been dealing with a calf injury. This injury has kept him out of action since the Hornets’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on December 26. Additionally, the former Jazz star’s $31.5 million contract expires at the end of the year, making him an unrestricted free agent during the 2024 offseason. And Hayward’s large contract makes it difficult for the Hornets to trade him.

According to The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone, Hayward may be a name to also watch in the buyout market:

“But he doesn’t fit the Hornets’ roster retooling timeline and a split is almost certainly on the horizon. Two league sources suggested Hayward could be a buyout candidate, a move that’d allow the 33-year-old to sign with a preferred destination.”

However, Boone also suggests that most of the NBA’s top teams don’t have the salary cap to take Hayward in:

“There is a slightly different wrinkle now with getting bought out, though. Many of the league’s championship contenders currently boast a payroll of more than $182 million, placing them above a certain threshold that hinders their ability to sign players who were waived.”

Regardless, it seems like a Hayward-Hornets split is likely approaching the All-Star Break.

The Last Word on the Gordon Hayward NBA Rumors

A split seems inevitable with a soon-to-be 34-year-old Hayward playing for a 10-32 Hornets team (third-worst in the Eastern Conference). However, whether it happens as a trade or a buyout remains to be seen. According to Zach Lowe, there is interest in Hayward around the league. A few teams to keep an eye on include the Philadelphia 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams currently own a top-five record in the entire league and may be looking for a playoff push at the deadline.

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