Might we finally get closure on Gordon Hayward's Boston Celtics exit?
The Charlotte Hornets officially waived Nicolas Batum and his $27.1 million contract for the 2020-21 season Sunday.
The Hornets still owe Batum that $27.1 million but now can use the NBA's "stretch provision" to spread that money over three seasons at roughly $9 million per year.
If they go that route, they'll have enough cap space to sign Hayward outright after agreeing to a four-year, $120 million contract with the veteran forward in free agency.
According to recent reports, the Celtics and Hornets were attempting to work out a sign-and-trade that would send an asset back to Boston (likely a traded player exception) while helping Charlotte clear more cap room for Hayward.
After waiving Batum, the Hornets technically don't need a sign-and-trade to bring on Hayward. They can pay a whopping $39 million per year (Hayward's contract plus Batum's stretched contract) for the 30-year-old veteran and leave the Celtics empty-handed.
Still, the possibility of a sign-and-trade isn't dead yet. Boston could agree to send a draft pick to Charlotte in exchange for a roughly $30 million trade exception that could help fill Hayward's void.
The Hornets essentially would get a free asset after waiving Batum. But they'd also be doing the Celtics a favor, which they've already done once while executing a double sign-and-trade involving Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier in 2019.
The C's also could stick it to Charlotte by signing Batum to a cheaper deal -- but it appears the Los Angeles Clippers have beaten them to the punch.
UPDATE (Nov. 29, 3:40 p.m.): The sign-and-trade is complete, with the Celtics sending Hayward and two future second round picks to Charlotte for a conditional future second round pick along with a trade exception, reportedly one of the largest in league history.