The Hornets seem to be offering one of their picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft to move the contract of Gordon Hayward, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, via RealGM.
It is believed the Hornets would like to clear the necessary cap space to keep Miles Bridges, who enters free agency next month. Bridges is coming off a career season.
Meanwhile, Hayward was limited to just 49 games last season, after appearing in only 44 the year before, his first in Charlotte. He has a $30.1 million salary for next season, and $31.5 million for 2023-24.
The Hornets own two first-rounders, including a lottery selection — Nos. 13 and 15 overall. Windhorst suggested they may be willing to part with one if it means also moving Hayward.
“It’s been reported that the Hornets have hesitancy on matching a max offer sheet for Bridges in restricted free agency,” RealGM wrote. “This mostly seems due to the team’s mounting salary obligations, with Hayward’s $30 million-plus deal on the books.”
Hayward, 32, is 6-foot-7 and always productive when healthy enough to play. Last season, he averaged 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Along with deciding what to do about Hayward, Bridges and the draft, the Hornets are again in the midst of a coaching search after Kenny Atkinson backed out of the job last week. As we relayed, previous candidate Mike D’Antoni met with Hornets owner Michael Jordan on Wednesday.
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