The Oklahoma City Thunder made a much anticipated move Thursday just hours ahead of the NBA trade deadline , but the player they traded for may surprise you. With the deadline looming, Oklahoma City found themselves towards the top of the Western Conference, and ahead of schedule in terms of the rebuild. Fans and media alike have been speculating whether Sam Presti would use some of his many assets to improve the roster for a deep playoff run.
Social media has been littered with potential additions that even included LeBron James. Sam Presti has a history of keeping this information in the building, so as a Thunder fan you never truly know what to expect heading into the deadline. This year was no different as Sam Presti was able to make a deal with the Charlotte Hornets for veteran guard Gordon Hayward. In the past, it had been reported that OKC had interest in Hayward, but Sam had not been able to make it happen up to this point. Hayward has only appeared in 25 games for the Hornets this season.
At this point in his career, it is safe to say Hayward has had an unfortunate run of injuries. Many will remember his gruesome leg and ankle injury just a few minutes into his 2017 Boston Celtic debut, and since signing a 4 year/ $120,000,000 contract via sign and trade from Boston to Charlotte, Hayward is yet to play in more than 50 games in a single season.
As to be expected, it is hard to get in a rhythm when you are on and off the court continuously, which has resulted in a slight decline of Haywards stats and performances. With that being said, Hayward is having a relatively good season when he has been on the court logging 31.9 minutes per game. In those almost 32 minutes of play, he averages 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assist.
What Does Gordon Hayward Bring To The Table For Oklahoma City?
The easy and most obvious answer is a veteran presence. Before players began shuffling around the league today and earlier this week, Oklahoma City boasted the second youngest roster in the NBA with only the San Antonio Spurs having an average younger age. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort are the only 2 players still with the Thunder from their most recent playoff run in 2020. While Hayward does not have recent playoff history, he has been apart of 8 playoff series in his career. A young team like OKC will benefit from adding a veteran such as Hayward even if it is not directly through his own play on the court. Not only is Hayward a veteran of the league, the 33 year old can shoot well from behind the arc. In the 2020-2021 season, Hayward shot over 40% from three on 4.7 attempts per game. OKCs willingness to drive the ball into the paint should leave Hayward with favorable chances from outside. While more scoring is almost always a plus in the NBA, the Thunder are not hurting in that department. Luckily, Hayward is a good playmaker and passer. He is capable of creating opportunities for others and himself when necessary. Lets hope this change of scenery provides some rejuvenation for Gordon.
Oklahoma City and Charlotte Hornets Full Trade Details:
The Thunder are including Vasilije Micic and draft compensation to the deal, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/IXEJ7ibaC1
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 8, 2024
The Thunder lose three players who struggled to find rotation minutes this season. While you could argue each player has shown flashes of play that could be beneficial to the team, consistency has been the main issue. Hayward is in the last year of his current contract. That makes this a potential low risk high reward scenario if Hayward fits in with OKC as well as some expect. Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Hayward should be available soon, if not immediately. It will be interesting to see where is is slotted into the lineup once he is fully healthy and brought up to speed.