Just after midnight Wednesday morning, the Observer broke the story that the Charlotte Hornets reached an agreement on a $63 million, four-year deal with restricted free agent forward-guard Gordon Hayward. Here are some things to know about the deal:
He also led Butler to a runner-up finish in the 2010 NCAA championship. After beating No. 1 seed Syracuse in a regional game and Michigan State in the semifinals, Butler faced Duke for the championship. With Butler trailing 61-59 and seconds left, Hayward grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled and then launched a half-court shot at the buzzer. The ball hit the backboard, then the rim and bounced out.
The other alternative at small forward, former second-round pick Jeff Taylor, is rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during January.
The best way to help Jefferson score efficiently is surround him with shooters. Clifford often says your shooting is your spacing, as far as discouraging teams from double-teaming Jefferson.
Hayward mostly thrived in the three seasons in Salt Lake City before Jefferson left for Charlotte. Though his field-goal percentage slipped from 48.5 percent during that span to 43.5 percent, his scoring average rose each season from 5.4 points per game, to 11.8 to 14.1.
Jefferson and Hayward, by all accounts, collaborated well for the Jazz. Jefferson was expected to be part of the recruiting pitch the Hornets made to Hayward.
They will get additional cap relief once McRoberts signs with the Heat. However, they’ll likely need to sign another veteran big man and that’s not their only need; a veteran point guard to back up Walker is a must.
It’s unlikely, assuming the Hornets retain Jefferson (who makes $13.5 million per season), they’d have much flexibility in the summer of 2015, when they’d also need to address Walker’s restricted free agency.