Target No. 2: Gordon Hawyard
Gordon Hayward‘s tenure for the Charlotte Hornets has been rather underwhelming, especially considering the contract he signed back in the summer of 2020. Hayward has played 143 total games in three seasons in Charlotte, and has been a bit injury prone since the 2019-20 season.
The Charlotte Hornets are most likely going to be a team eyeing ping-pong balls after the regular season, more so than a spot in the playoffs. After drafting Alabama swingman Brandon Miller second overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, as Miles Bridges signing a qualifying offer this offseason, that leaves Hayward’s role in Charlotte to most likely be a sixth man.
Hayward is going to be 34 years old next year, and he is not getting any younger. Playing on a tanking team is not likely going to be Hayward’s top choice, which could make him a prime target to be bought out later on next season.
The Cavaliers could use a player like Hayward, especially considering their small forward spot is up in the air as of now. Hayward’s secondary playmaking could be a really great asset to this Cavs squad, when factoring in how they ranked 18th overall in the league in assists per game last season, at 24.9 assists per game. Hayward has a career 3.5 assists per game in his 13 years in the NBA.
The main thing that is worrisome about Hayward is his injury history, as well as his limited mobility at this point in his career. Hayward has never been the quickest player, but after he had a season-ending injury back in the first game of the 2017-18 season, his agility and speed decreased. At this point, he’s more suited to play power forward than small forward, considering his lack of quickness on the perimeter.
Cleveland could be an ideal fit, though, as he could be a quality locker room presence, he was an All-Star for the Utah Jazz back in the 2016-17 season, and he has plenty of years of NBA experience.
The 2023-24 NBA season still has a while to go before it even starts, but the Cavs can still have their eyes on certain players in hopes that they could hit the buyout market. The Cavaliers should be a competitive team next year, which could make Cleveland an attractive place to sign.
Whether Joe Harris or Gordon Hayward get bought out and sign with Cleveland or not, with the Cavs’ roster in mind, there is plenty of reason to be excited for next season.