ESPN report: Hornets will sign a player they have coveted for years

By Richard Walker

The adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” played in the Charlotte Hornets favor on Saturday as ESPN reported the team had agreed to a four-year, $120 million free agent contract with the Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward.

It comes six years after Charlotte’s offer sheet to sign Hayward was matched when he was a restricted Utah Jazz free agent.

This time, Hayward opted out of the fourth year of a $128 million free agent contract he signed with the Boston Celtics in 2017 on Thursday to make him an unrestricted fee agent for the 2020 offseason.

Hayward, 30, has averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 during his 10-year career that began after he helped Butler to the NCAA championship game against Duke in 2010. Even in defeat, Hayward’s potential game-winning halfcourt miss at the end of that contest is one of the most replayed NCAA tournament highlights in history.

Hayward’s free agent contract comes four days after Charlotte selected LaMelo Ball, Vernon Carey, Jr., and Grant Riller in the draft and acquired another 2020 draft pick (Nick Richard) on the night of the draft.

Since they’ve agreed to sign Hayward, reports indicate Charlotte will also release Nic Batum before the final year of the five-year, $120 million free agent contact he signed to remain with the Hornets in July 2016. Charlotte will still owe Batum $27.13 million for the 2020-21 season.