Gordon Hayward is heading to Charlotte in free agency, but there's still a chance Boston gets something in return.
The Celtics and Hornets are discussing a potential sign-and-trade that would give Boston a trade exception while clearing the cap space for Charlotte to sign Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday.
The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell initially reported the Hornets would waive Nicolas Batum and stretch his $27 million contract for 2020-21 over three seasons to clear cap room for Hayward, but it appears they could trade the forward to a third team instead.
The Athletic's Jared Weiss noted the Oklahoma City Thunder as a potential trade partner given their ample cap space.
A sign-and-trade would net the Celtics a roughly $30 million trade exception (depending on how Hayward's contract is structured) that Danny Ainge would have 12 months to use.
The C's could use that exception to trade for a star player between now and the February trade deadline as they aim to fill Hayward's void and make a run at an NBA Finals berth. If no deal comes to fruition, they'd have to use the exception during the 2021 offseason before it expires.
Boston likely would need to part with a draft asset in this sign-and-trade, but at least it wouldn't be left empty-handed after Hayward's departure.