The Chicago Bulls path to the playoffs just got bumpier.
A few days after adding top-ranked point guard LaMelo Ball in the NBA draft, the Charlotte Hornets signed all-star forward Gordon Hayward away from the Boston Celtics.
What price did they pay? Uh, well, you might have to see it to believe it …
Free agent Gordon Hayward is signing a 4-year, $120M deal with Charlotte, per source.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
GRAB. A. BAG.
This is undoubtedly a steep price to pay for Hayward’s services, especially considering Hayward’s recent injury history. With that said, Michael Jordan’s front office seems convinced Hayward can channel his Utah Jazz days and return to form as one of the better small forwards in the league. For what it’s worth, Hayward had a solid bounce-back campaign last year, averaging 17.5 points, 4.1 assists, and 6.5 rebounds. Perhaps he can prove even more valuable in a scenario where he is a No. 1 or No. 2 option in Charlotte.
There is no question Hayward improves Charlotte’s squad, even if it’s unclear how quickly Rozier, Graham, Ball, Hayward will gel. With the Hawks also adding key players in free agency (Danilo Gallinari and Kris Dunn), the Bulls now have more teams to worry about as they try to fight for the playoffs. Adding Hayward just adds more competition to the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. For instance, an improved Charlotte team adds them to a mix of teams that could include the Magic, Wizards, Hawks, and Bulls in the NBA’s play-in tournament for the final slots.
If the Bulls want to be in this competitive mix, they’ll have to hope Billy Donovan’s presence is enough to take roughly the same 2019-20 roster to the next level. Of course, there is always a chance that this front office makes a couple of more moves this offseason. But it will most likely have to come via the trade market with an already packed roster. At least things are getting interesting.