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Hayward details FA process, why he left Celtics for Hornets

/ by Darren Hartwell
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Gordon Hayward could have taken $34.2 million to stay with the Boston Celtics or signed a multi-year contract with his hometown Indiana Pacers in free agency.

So, how did the 30-year-old veteran wind up in Charlotte?

During his introductory press conference Tuesday, Hayward admitted he's thought highly of the Hornets since 2014, when team owner Michael Jordan sent him a four-year, $63 million offer sheet that the Jazz matched to keep him in Utah.

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"I never forgot the commitment and potential Michael saw in me when they signed me to that offer sheet," Hayward said, via The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "That meant a lot to me."

Jordan apparently still sees that potential. While Hayward confirmed he had conversations with multiple teams in free agency, he spoke with Jordan twice before agreeing to a four-year, $120 million contract with Charlotte.

"Although there were conversations with lots of teams ... I told (my agent), 'Let's get this thing done,' " Hayward said, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

"I just think that after speaking with family and with my agent and to the Hornets organization ... it really was really powerful and made me think more about it. I decided to go for it," Hayward added, via Washburn.

 

The Celtics tried to keep Hayward in Boston this offseason -- Danny Ainge claimed that was his team's "No. 1 priority" -- but the 10-year veteran sounded ready for a change in scenery (and quite confident) after three snake-bitten seasons with the Celtics.

"I was in a different role after the injury and I tried to make the best of it," Hayward said. "I firmly believe that I'm in the prime of my career.

" ... It was a tough decision to leave Boston. But it was something here where I wanted to maximize my potential and help the team win."

The Hornets will need "prime" Hayward after going 23-42 last season. Even if he can't turn Charlotte into a playoff contender, though, he'll still be a No. 1 option making $30 million per year in guaranteed money until 2024. Hard to pass that up.