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Russell Westbrook trade rumors: How Hornets’ Gordon Hayward could fit on Lakers in a hypothetical deal

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Give Michael Jordan: He’s the most consistent figure in basketball history. He has never lost in the NBA Finals. He never averaged less than 20 points per game. And he never paid wealth tax as owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Even in the days before 2011, when the tax was significantly less punitive. Nope. Jordan runs the Hornets first as a business and second as a basketball team, and that says a lot about how he’s handling the 2022 offseason.

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Prize-winning forward Miles Bridges will receive limited free agency during the offseason. by Shams CharaniaThe Hornets are hesitant to match the maximum offer sheet it inevitably receives. From a basketball point of view, it makes little sense. Each postseason shows both the NBA’s shift toward a wing-based league and a desperate shortage of skilled, athletic players from 6-7 to 6-9 in the league. If you’re going to top anyone, you’ll beat a 23-year-old 20-point forward with sports tools to become a fullback. Max himself would also be quite lenient. With only four years of experience, Bridges is only eligible for the lowest 25 percent maximum. If someone else signs it on the offer sheet and Charlotte agrees, he can only get a five percent raise a year. With a new TV deal set to go into effect near the end of that contract, Bridges could be significantly underpaid by the time it ends.

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But Charlotte gave Terry Rozier nearly $100 million over the next four years. Bridges is about to get a list of maximum offers from someone. PJ Washington is one year away from a significant advance. In two years? Lamelo Ball is getting his own high, and if he continues to develop at the same pace as he is now, thanks to the Derrick Rose Rule, it could be a higher high of 30 percent. If Jordan doesn’t get an ominous visit from the Ghost of the Lotteries to Come, his financial history suggests he’s going to draw the line somewhere so as not to risk the tax.

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This is where Gordon Hayward comes in. The Hornets are so desperate to get rid of the money right now that they are reportedly willingness to part ways with 15th overall pick to carry over the remaining two years and $61.6 million of the Hayward deal. Of course, if the Hornets are willing to reschedule this deal without sacrificing such a valuable pick, there may just be a team that can take them.

The Hornets have been linked with Russell Westbrook since the start of the offseason, and even as the draft approached. Kevin O’Connor reported that Charlotte’s interest in former MVP and rep Jordan Brand is “real”. As we said, any team looking to acquire Westbrook will most likely do so for reasons unrelated to basketball. Money is not a basketball reason. While replacing Hayward and some extra salary ballast with Westbrook’s $47 million contract may not save much next season, he only has one season left. If the Lakers want to get rid of Westbrook badly enough, the Hornets can use them to get rid of any pesky, drawn-out, long-term deals they want. They may even be able to get a little compensation for their problems.

The key to all of this is how interested the Lakers might be in Hayward. So let’s break this fit down as possibly Westbrook’s last remaining deal on the table for the Lakers.

What makes Gordon Hayward good?

Luckily for the Lakers, Hayward notes the most important thing Westbrook lacks: shooting. Although his three-point shots were a bit inconsistent during his time in Utah, he has largely excelled at making the kind of shots that the Lakers have been demanding from their role players since joining the Celtics.

hayward season

Shooting percentage with 3 points

Wide open 3 point percentage













Hayward’s three-pointer isn’t nearly as strong, but he’s had a good season in that regard, and just as importantly, he consistently hit those shots inside the arc. Over the past three seasons, he has completed 47.9% of double pull-ups and 46.8% of middle distance attempts. That’s the kind of shooting profile the Lakers need from a third-best scorer in the postseason. Few other than LeBron James would need to create three-pointers on dribbling. The rest of the team has to take the shots he creates and hit the ones the defense gives them. Hayward does both. He’s a real three-level scorer, but with a lot of skill to hide his waning athleticism. His internal numbers remain strong, but he does not complete contact as easily as he once did. Instead, he honed an arrow of twists, spins, and hook strikes to help him generate clean looks near the basket when he can’t get there.

Defenders know that Hayward can score from anywhere and that helps him play. Although he is not the most flamboyant passer, he is a master at using his power as a scorer to tip the defense in his favor. He knows he has little hope of going heads-up against Giannis Antetokounmpo on this play, so he hires Chris Middleton as an assistant guard to create a pass to the basket for Miles Bridges:

This type of shot is most noticeable on three-pointers, which Hayward creates for teammates much more easily than he does. He processes information so quickly and sees the court so well that when he drives into overcrowded colors or runs into perimeter traps, he can almost always find someone the defense leaves open to give him extra attention:

Such passes are one of the advantages of former All-Star players. Hayward was used to being the center of attention and he figured out how to use that to his advantage. The difference between him and Westbrook is that he is well aware that not The all-star game is no more and he has made up for his reduced cast by developing into a very capable and considerate cutter. There is nothing special about this haircut. Hayward is guarded by Devin Booker, and Booker knows that Washington is a sniper to be feared, so when the ball is flying towards Washington from behind the arc, Hayward uses the instinctive step that Booker makes towards the ball to sneak up on him from behind. two simple points. In fact, he was rewarded for the attention:

Plays like this are a fairly easy offense, but Hayward is also a strong save cutter. When Terry Rozier is trapped on the baseline, Hayward understands the geometry of the floor well enough to know that the angle Andrew Wiggins is protecting him from will not cut off the middle of the floor. So Hayward rushes in, uses his hand to deflect Wiggins, and uses all the defensive energy put into Rosier to get two Hornets points:

And how’s the treat for James? Hayward scores a lot of points in the concessions, and LeBron likes to play a quick game for two outside the transition. He and Hayward can pretty easily switch roles in this dance:

It all goes to show that Hayward is a great, complementary striker and he will thrive with James and Anthony Davis. The big questions here are defensive in nature, and while there is more negative than positive at this point in his career, he is not a complete nuisance at this end of the court. His numbers in isolation remained quite high even in the last years of his life. The guards often challenge him, knowing how much athleticism he has lost, but even in his weakened state, he is still fast enough to survive against most of them because he has such deceptive size and strength that he can still control the conditions of a fight. when they attack:

Size itself is a defensive asset, and Hayward is likely to play shooting guard in some lineups. Such groups will tower over opponents and Anthony Davis can cover teammates with limited mobility. At this point in his career, Hayward is primarily an assistant defenseman, and he does a good job in that role. That doesn’t make him an ideal partner for James, who even spent the 2020 championship season mostly hiding from bad shooters in the corner so he can report to his teammates and help around the rim, but what’s valuable is that Westbrook just doesn’t do that. . sentence. You can plan defense with Hayward much easier than with Westbrook, simply because he is bigger and more alert.

Where is Gordon Hayward wrestling?

In attack, we can only collect nits. He has never hit the rim so much or committed too many fouls. In addition, he is no longer a particularly popular player and has spent the last few seasons playing with several shot makers. That’s probably good for the minutes he shared with James, but it also means he’s less likely to settle the “How do we score when LeBron comes off the bench?” dilemma.

Over the past two years, Hayward has hardly played a minute without Rosier or LaMelo Ball, and the results have been mixed. Charlotte’s offense was way above average in those situations a season ago. During the 2020-21 campaign? According to Cleaning the Glass, it ranks 46th in terms of attack efficiency. All of these lineups had more shots than most lineups on the Lakers’ bench. Hayward’s pick-and-roll numbers have been mediocre ever since he left Utah for Boston, but they’re not exactly a fair barometer of his ability in this regard due to the big players he’s played with. Al Horford, Daniel Theis, Cody Zeller and Mason Plumley don’t jump. Davis changes everything for Hayward as a playmaker, so it’s hard to judge him too harshly.

Real warts are on the defensive. Hayward is still quick enough for many defenders, but he doesn’t stand a chance against the fastest player in the league. Trae Young just loves Hayward in this…


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