Al Jefferson, a veteran signed from Utah last summer on a deal many considered an overpay, unexpectedly lifted Charlotte into the playoffs.
His transformative effect on the team could be felt for years to come, but it also alters the present.
With higher expectations entering this season, the Hornets need more playmaking on the wing. Their long-term aspirations remain in tact, though.
It’s a tough line to balance.
Maybe another Jazz player – 24-year-old Gordon Hayward, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game last season – fits the bill.
Forward-guard Gordon Hayward, one of the top free agents in this class, has scheduled a visit with the Charlotte Hornets for early next week, the Observer has learned.
Jefferson and Hayward are friends from their time together in Salt Lake City. A source familiar with the situation said Jefferson has been recruiting Hayward and will be part of the Hornets’ presentation next week.
The Hornets have enough cap room to offer Hayward a max offer sheet, and that’s probably what it would take to get him to sign. Enough other teams – the Cavaliers, Celtics, Suns – are hovering that I can’t imagine Hayward would guarantee himself a lower salary.
I like Hayward’s fit in Charlotte, and unless the Hornets really fear losing other targets while Utah delays three days to match an offer sheet, maybe the Hornets should take a swing at Hayward.