Miles Bridges is about to draw max (or near max) contract offers. The Hornets could offer a five-year, $173 max contract but are reportedly hesitant to do so. Other teams could offer four years, $131 million.
Charlotte ownership reportedly has concerns about going into the luxury tax to give Bridges that much money.
Gordon Hayward will make $30.1 million next season (and $31.5 million the following season).
It’s not hard to connect the dots to a Hayward trade, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on air that the Hornets are willing to attach one of their first-round picks — No. 13 or No. 15 — to whatever team takes on Hayward’s salary (hat tip Real GM).
Hayward is not an empty salary, he averaged 15.9 points a game and shot 39.1% from 3 when he was healthy enough to be on the court last season. Injuries are the concern, he hasn’t played more than 52 games in each of the previous three seasons.
There have been rumors about Hayward to the Pacers, possibly for Myles Turner.
However, the most interesting rumor comes from Kevin O’Conner of the Ringer and Marc Stein of Substack who say the Hornets have interest in Russell Westbrook — not as a player, but because while he will make $47 million this season (once he picks up his player option), it is the last year of his deal. Hayward has two years ad $61.5 million on his contract, and Terry Rozier‘s four-year, $96 million contract extension is about to kick in — Charlotte would love to trade Rozier and Hayward to get off their contracts and take the shorter deal for Westbrook. The Lakers, however, are about to clean up their books and don’t want those two longer contracts. In theory, this could become a three-way trade with Kyrie Irving coming to the Lakers, but this again is a wild longshot (just like any Westbrook trade) and most likely Irving will re-sign in Brooklyn.
Ultimately, the Hornets have to pay Bridges — he averaged 20.2 points and 7 rebounds a game last season on the wing, plays solid defense, and is just 24 and still improving. If you’re not keeping a player like that — or P.J. Washington — to go alongside LaMelo Ball, then you’re doing it wrong.
Look for the Hornets to be an active team on Thursday at the NBA Draft, as Windhorst reported few expect them to use both of their first round picks. One will be on the move.