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For as long as Brad Stevens has been in Boston, rumors of a possible reunion with his Butler star Gordon Hayward have swirled. The Celtics have a need at the wing, Stevens and Hayward have a great relationship, and Hayward would seemingly have been open to coming to Boston.

However we can finally put those rumors to rest, but not before the Celtics at least spoke with Hayward's agent. Via Woj.

Restricted free agent Gordon Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $63 million maximum contract offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

A player option for the fourth year of the deal and a 15 percent trade kicker are expected to be included in the offer sheet, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Both would be considered incentives to dissuade the Jazz from matching the sheet, but Utah officials have remained adamant they will match any sheet for Hayward – including a max offer.

Agent Mark Bartelstein aggressively courted the market for an offer sheet for Hayward, discussing deals with several teams – including Cleveland, Phoenix and Boston – but ultimately reached the deal with Charlotte on Tuesday. There was doubt within the league whether Bartelstein could secure a max offer for Hayward, but he found a willing suitor with the Hornets.

Woj went on to say that Bartelstein discussed sign-and-trades with teams, which along with the Celtics mention makes you wonder if they were talking to Utah to try and work something out.

But alas, it did not happen.

While many will call Hayward overpaid -- this is clearly the direction we're moving in in the NBA as the salary cap continues to rise. Jodie Meeks is making over $6 million next year. Avery Bradley and Channing Frye $8 million apiece. Hell, Ben Gordon is going to make nearly $5 million and I thought he may be out of the league.

The price is going up for role players, therefore the price is going up for very good players like Hayward as well. Just like Bradley and Frye, probably $5-6 million guys, are making 25-30% more than that, it seems like Hayward, probably an $11-12 million guy in most people's books, is getting nearly $16M.

What's interesting is that the NBA's true stars will not benefit from this. While Hayward gets $16M, and a guy like Chris Bosh has been offered $20+, LeBron James will only get an offer that matches Bosh's. As all the other players see their value increase, the megastars are hard capped. Not that I feel bad for them or anything, it's just an interesting dynamic. Stars have always been vital to success in the NBA, but now that guys like LeBron, Durant and Melo will be making a mere $5 million more than Hayward -- holy crap do they become even more valuable.

Back to the Hayward deal itself..he's a very good player. One who took major steps as an all-around player, averaging career highs in points (16.2), assists (5.2), rebounds (5.1) and steals (1.4) last season. While he struggled shooting (30% from three), that was clearly an aberration. This is a guy that shot 40% from three his first three seasons combined, so once he bounces back to that area he has a really good chance to become an All-Star. And if you're Charlotte, this is the type of guy you have to go after. You're not convincing the upper echelon stars to go there, so you need to get the B-level stars (Big Al and Hayward) while drafting well to have a shot. And if Utah were to pass on bringing back Hayward, you'd have to at least start to recognize the Hornets as semi-intriguing. With Kemba, Hayward and Big Al leading the way, talented rookies in Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston, and solid role players like MKG and Gerald Henderson, Charlotte would possibly set themselves up for a run at a top-four seed in the East depending on where LeBron and company land. And while that may not satiate the "title or bust" mentality of most folks -- that's not a bad goal for a team that has never won a playoff game.

Nonetheless, unless Utah changes their mind, Hayward is heading back to the Jazz. Leaving MJ with $63 million to spend elsewhere (if the Rockets land Bosh, wouldn't Parsons be a perfect fit?)


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Michael Dyer 7/09/2014 02:44:00 AM Edit
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