Gordon Hayward joining the Charlotte Hornets in free agency was unexpected, to say the least.
After the former Boston Celtics forward opted out of his $34.2 million contract, the most likely scenario seemed to be a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers. Hayward also was linked to the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
Then, the Hornets swooped in out of nowhere to ink sign the former All-Star to a four-year, $120 million contract.
In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Hayward reflected on the free-agency process and confirmed the five teams that were on his radar.
"Yeah, Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in," Hayward told The Athletic. "I think they’re another group of guys who are obviously young but extremely talented and you saw the additions that they added in the offseason. ... New York was in the mix — the Knicks. Indiana was another team that was really interested, and we had mutual interest for a while. Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too. There were just a lot of options and a lot of potential teams that I could go to, but I’d say those were the main ones. Atlanta, New York, Boston, Indiana, and then Charlotte obviously."
As much as Hayward would have enjoyed staying with Boston, the 30-year-old admitted his three-year tenure with the Celtics didn't go the way he hoped it would.
"Obviously, it was disappointing with how everything played out there," Hayward said. "A lot of it is just not under my control. I would have never imagined myself getting injured my very first year there and missing the whole year, having a serious injury. That’s obviously very disappointing. Last year, I feel like I played really well, and I feel like our team was in a really good position and I get injured again — like, a fluke injury — the first game of the playoffs (the aforementioned right ankle)."
With the exception of a couple of minor injuries, Hayward so far has been able to stay healthy and productive with Charlotte. Through 13 games, he's averaging 22.2 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the floor.