Michael Jordan’s time as an NBA owner has been the exact opposite of his career as a player, but he remains capable of sending shockwaves through the league.
Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets have been perennial underachievers in his time in charge and are now betting their future on broken-down former All-Star Gordon Hayward after making the biggest move of day two of the NBA’s free agency period.
Per reports, the Hornets will pay the former Celtics small forward $120 million over the next four seasons after Hayward opted out of the final year of his contract in Boston.
The cost and length of the deal drew immediate backlash from NBA pundits, including Ryen Russillo who declared Charlotte “just signed one of the worst contracts of free agency”.
“Now to be fair. When you are a stale franchise that doesn’t attract players you have to do these things,” Russillo tweeted. “But 4yrs for a guy that can’t stay healthy …”
“Gordon Hayward and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, win the off-season. $120 million over four years? Unbelievable,” added Chris Mannix.
Hayward was hotly-pursued by Boston after emerging as an All-Star in Utah, but his time with the Celtics was a train wreck after he badly broke his ankle six minutes into his first game for his new team.
His recovery took years and was marked by several setbacks and even though his scoring average returned to more than 17 points per game last season the jury is still very much out on if he can become the player he once was.
That’s a bet Jordan, whose franchise will build its future around Hayward and number three draft pick LaMelo Ball, is willing to take.
It’s the second time in two years the Hornets have raided the Celtics, signing Terry Rozier to a three-year $57 million deal last season.
It was the Eastern Conference making moves early on Sunday morning, including the reigning champion Miami Heat.
The Heat added Lakers guard Avery Bradley, who did not play in the postseason after opting not to travel to the NBA’s bubble in Orlando for family reasons, on a two-year $11.6 million.
That saw Miami forward Jae Crowder accept a three-year $30 million deal in Phoenix, where he will join Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Another Laker, Rajon Rondo, moved east to Atlanta on a two-year $15 million deal, a day after the Hawks added Thunder forward Danilo Gallanari for three years and $61.5 million.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet also got paid, signing the largest contract in NBA history by a player that went undrafted. VanVleet will earn $85 million across the next four seasons.
Day one was headlined by Montrezl Harrell’s stunning move from the Clippers to the LA rival Lakers.
The deals kept flying in on day two with former All Star Carmelo Anthony staying loyal to Portland on a one-year deal, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Veteran guard Rajon Rondo also signed a reported $US15 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, confirming his departure from the Lakers.
One of the richest deals completed on day two saw journeyman Jae Crowder move to the Phoenix Suns on a three-year, $US30 million deal.
Kiwi centre Steven Adams was also traded early on day two, making a move from the Thunder to the Pelicans.
Raptors shooter Fred Vanvleet also signed a monster deal to stay with Toronto, a record $US85 deal which is the biggest contract ever signed by a player that failed to be selected in the NBA Draft.