Gordon Hayward first stepped onto the scene when he led 2010’s Cinderella team, the Butler University Bulldogs, all the way to the title game of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. With just seconds to go, Hayward heaved the ball from half court only to watch it hit the backboard and rim out. Duke University defeated Butler 61-59, but that was not the end for Hayward.
After slowly improving over four years with the Utah Jazz, Hayward may become the NBA’s next star. Even if he doesn’t, at least he will be paid like one. Hayward reportedly signed an offer for four years and $63 million with the Charlotte Hornets.
Although Utah has been relatively quiet over the past couple years, Hayward has been making noise. Last season, Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He also played 36.4 minutes per game, a substantial increase from the 16.9 minutes he played each game during his rookie season.
However, Hayward may want to wait before packing his bags and officially moving to Charlotte. Hayward is currently a restricted free agent, meaning the Jazz can match the offer made by the Hornets. If they do, Gordon will be staying in Utah. Charlotte should be nervous because sources say Utah has been preparing to match any offer made to Hayward in order to keep him.
If Utah allows Hayward to head to Charlotte, Hayward would join former Jazz teammate Al Jefferson, along with Kemba Walker and rookie Noah Vonleh, whose talent ceiling is very high. Charlotte finished as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference last year and are clearly retooling to be a bigger threat to the league next season.
Even after signing Hayward, the Hornets would have plenty of cap space to sign a few more free agents and add to the depth of the team.
Is Gordon on his way to superstar status? Charlotte definitely believes it. Clearly they see something in Gordon they like a lot and want to snag the young player for the immediate future.
Is he being overpaid? That is another very valid question. At Gordon’s age, his future is unknown and he may never reach his full potential. In that case, he simply turns into a waste of money.
Charlotte should be confident because Gordon’s yearly increase in production would point to a bright future in the NBA.