Breaking down why Gordon Hayward is reaching new heights in Charlotte

Watch as the Inside the Association crew featuring Shams Charania and Brandon Wallace break down why former Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is having so much success in Charlotte. Health wise, Hayward was pretty much back to his former self last season, two years after what could have been a career ending injury. The problem was Hayward had to (or unselfishly) take a back seat to young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Add in Kemba Walker the big free agent all-star addition and Marcus Smart, who undoubtedly views himself as a star, and Hayward was stuck out on the periphery.

There's a world where Hayward could have achieved this success in Boston. Well not counting if he never had that horrific injury. I'm talking in 2021. But it would likely have meant the Celtics dealing away Kemba Walker, since you can't realistically expect to get the best out of both veterans while also featuring your two young stars. I love Kemba. In Charlotte he kind of reminded me of Isaiah Thomas prior to his injury. Those type of players often are their best as the #1 options on their teams.

With Tatum and Brown, I think that Hayward actually would have fit better as the 3rd guy in Boston. You'd have tremendous position versatility and never would have to worry about hiding Kemba on defense. Ironically enough the media praised Danny Ainge for giving Kemba Walker a $40 mil per year contract and mocked Michael Jordan for refusing to. Then they mocked Jordan again for giving Hayward a $30 mil per year deal. Without going into this much further, just be weary when every supposed NBA expert mocks or praises a signing. There isn't very much independent thought out there.

People said the Hornets were crazy for offering Hayward $30 mil a yr, but there was no criticism of the Pacers who offered $25 mil a yr PLUS would have had to give up Myles Turner, a 1st rounder and Doug McDermott. The Celtics oh by the way also reportedly offered $25 mil a year. So what we have here is an echo chamber of media that bashed the Hornets signing, because it was the Hornets. In reality the Pacers would have been giving up more in combined salary + assets if the Celtics could have gotten that sign-and-trade done.

Ainge was in a difficult position here, since it would have been a horrible look if he traded Kemba this offseason (he still reportedly tried). Also there was this nasty resentment from Celtics fans toward Gordon Hayward (and his wife for that matter) that also likely lead them to decide to bid adieu to Boston. Somehow a segment of the Boston fan base forgot this man suffered a horrific injury so his first two seasons in Boston don't mean anything. And then he unluckily severely sprained his ankle during the first game of the playoffs. He came back against the Heat at less than 50%. He played through pain. Missed the birth of his son to stay with the team. Super unselfish player. But some fans didn't like him and worse some even attacked his wife (for being a Republican if I recall correctly).

I honestly believe the fan base's treatment of Hayward likley had as much of a part in his departure as his diminishing role on the team. Happy to see him having success in Charlotte.