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Rumor: Hornets forward Gordon Hayward wants change of scenery

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 28: Gordon Hayward of the Charlotte Hornets looks on in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Spectrum Center on March 28, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

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Gordon Hayward chose the Hornets as a 2020 free agent because they offered him $120 million, of course. But the Celtics and Pacers reportedly offered big contracts, too.

A key differentiator for Charlotte: Hayward getting the opportunity to be the go-to player and maximize his on-court contributions.

But LaMelo Ball has rapidly developed into stardom. Miles Bridges expanded his offensive game this season. Even Terry Rozier has taken strides in a larger role.

So, where does that leave Hayward?

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:

Word has circulated amongst rival front offices that the 32-year-old swingman would be interested in a change of scenery this offseason, although a source close to Hayward told B/R he’s primarily focused on recovering from his injured foot.

Hayward’s latest injury puts yet another dent into his value. Due $30,075,000 and $31,500,000 the next two years, he already carried the baggage of his big contract. Those high salaries will make a trade unviable, or at least difficult, with some teams.

Still, Hayward could help teams when healthy. He’s a skilled wing who can dribble, shoot and pass. An offseason trade is certainly possible. His name came up in Russell Westbrook rumors with the Lakers.

Obviously, Charlotte will determine whether Hayward gets traded. But – with an endless range of pressure he could apply – Hayward could make a deal more likely by pushing.