Gordon Hayward agreed to a new contract with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday afternoon. As one of the most coveted free agents on the market, the 30-year-old struck a deal for $120 million over the next four years. The Hornets emerged as a suitor earlier in the week, although the highly regarded forward had interest from numerous other teams in the league.
But it’s possible that Hayward settled on Charlotte because of a conversation with one of the NBA’s greatest players.
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, Hornets’ owner Michael Jordan called Hayward late on Friday night to try and lock down the Celtics forward.
Charlotte made an offer to bring the talented scorer to the Hornets in restricted free agency in 2014. However, Hayward opted to accept Utah’s matching offer and return to the Jazz.
This time around, Jordan would not be denied.
Michael Jordan called Gordon Hayward late last night in an effort to close the deal for Charlotte, Hayward tells ESPN today. Hayward obviously remembers how MJ and Hornets signed him to an offer sheet in restricted free agency in 2014.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 21, 2020
It’s hard to imagine any better free agency pitch, then getting a call from MJ himself.
Adding Hayward to a young roster in Charlotte should bode well for the Hornets. At his peak in the 2016-17 season, the former Jazz forward averaged 21.5 points per game with shooting splits of .471 from the field and .398 from three. Although his production had dropped off due to injuries over the last few years, the 30-year-old still shows a unique ability to score efficiently from the wing.
Charlotte went 23-42 last season, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference. But the team boasts talented young players including P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges. Point guard Devonte’ Graham emerged as one of the league’s most improved talents last season. The Hornets also drafted the highly touted LaMelo Ball with the third pick in the 2020 NBA Draft last Wednesday.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets will waive veteran Nick Batum in order to make cap space for their new addition.
For now, Charlotte and Hayward will celebrate Saturday’s signing.