By: Nick Galle
Forward Gordon Hayward will be making his way to Charlotte this offseason after agreeing to a 4-year, $120 million contract with the Hornets.
While the Boston Celtics are still in talks regarding a potential sign-and-trade involving the former All-Star, one thing is for certain.
Hayward’s career in Boston has come to a close.
If there was a perfect time to part ways with Hayward, now would be that time.
Following the 2016-17 season, the best of his career, the former Butler Bulldog’s numbers have just not been the same. He missed the entirety of the following year due to that gruesome injury he suffered opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaged just 11.5 points in 2018-19 and played in just 52 games this past season, fighting numerous health setbacks along the way.
The fact of the matter is that Hayward might be the unluckiest man on the planet when it comes to getting injured. Of course everyone remembers the broken leg in Cleveland, but it has been the other injuries keeping Hayward from making a true comeback.
The hand fracture shown above sidelined the 6-foot-7 forward for approximately six weeks following a successful surgery. It happened at a time where Hayward was starting to look like his old self – the Utah Jazz form of Gordon Hayward. In the three games prior, he was averaging 24.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists, while shooting just under 66% from the field.
November was shaping up to be a great month for the veteran, but it ended up getting cut short by the 6-foot-11 frame of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Injury struck again in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers this past season. An ankle injury would keep Hayward out until the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami, where he would end up averaging 10.5 points, shooting just 39.8% from the field.
The story of Gordon Hayward in Boston is a sad and unfortunate one, but not one where the main character should end up getting $120 million in the end, hence why Celtics general manager Danny Ainge will not be a part of that conclusion.
After all, the 30-year-old has been in the league for 10 years now. At the rate at which he has been getting injured, how much time does he really have left? How much good basketball is left in the tank?
The Hornets are going to regret this one. It might not be this year, and it might not be next year (if they are lucky). But in 2023, when a Gordon Hayward nearing his mid-30s takes the court after who knows how many injuries, what can you really be expecting from him?
Hayward is a likeable player and always has been. NBA fans should be wishing him nothing but the best. A restored Gordon Hayward? Who wouldn’t want to watch that? It would be very, very exciting to see.
Let’s get real for a second though. He is not that bright-eyed, elusive 26-year-old in Utah anymore who could cut to the rim with ease, and it’s just unfortunate to see.
He was the fourth option on the Celtics. Yes, the fourth. You could even make the case that he was the fifth option after Marcus Smart stepped up in the playoffs.
Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown are the three focal points of that team. To be fair, Hayward is a pretty darn good fourth or fifth option to have on your team. Anytime a former All-Star is now considered a member of the supporting cast, chances are your team is in better shape than most.
With that being said, Charlotte is trying to take a supporting cast member and turn him back into a lead role, and they are doing so knowing full well that it has been four years since Hayward has been in the spotlight.
Sean Astin was great in “The Goonies” back in 1985. Flash forward over 30 years later, and the man got 11 episodes in the Netflix series “Stranger Things” before producers brutally killed off his character. Astin has appeared in a couple of things since, but there’s a reason we haven’t seen him in any lead roles lately.
Sometimes when a lead character heads to the supporting cast, they were meant to stay there, and that reigns true for Gordon Hayward.
Hayward’s story in Boston was changed forever in the matter of five minutes and 11 seconds that night in Cleveland. Who knows what his story in Charlotte will bring?
Fans are sure to find out, but for $120 million, it better be one of the best they’ll ever read.
Cover photo via: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
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