Knicks shouldn’t relive past desires with trade for Gordon Hayward

It’s been two years since the New York Knicks were interested in signing then-free agent Gordon Hayward. He ultimately ended up signing with the Charlotte Hornets, but New York reportedly offered a similar deal to Charlotte.

However, Hayward had already committed to the Hornets, so North Carolina became his next stop. And that couldn’t have worked out better for the Knicks because the last thing that they needed over the past two years was an oft-injured player.

The 32-year-old’s played in a combined 93 games since he signed with Charlotte. The last game that he played in for the Hornets was on Apr. 2 (his first game in nearly two months), which was a 5-point performance in a 144-114 loss.

He was out for the remainder of the season, including the play-in tournament, with “continued discomfort in his left foot.” 

He has two years left on the four-year contract that he signed with Charlotte and his name has popped up in trade rumors. Reportedly, the forward is open to the idea of a trade. Although New York was interested in him two summers ago, the Knicks need to steer clear of a trade for Hayward.

The New York Knicks should stay away from a Gordon Hayward trade

According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Hayward wouldn’t object to a trade this summer, although that isn’t his main focus.

Word has circulated amongst rival front offices that the 32-year-old swingman would be interested in a change of scenery this offseason, although a source close to Hayward told B/R he’s primarily focused on recovering from his injured foot.

Outside of Hayward’s injuries, he’s owed $30.1 million in 2022-23 and $31.5 million in 2023-24. Meanwhile, New York’s going to have a hard enough time creating cap space to try to sign Jalen Brunson for at least $20 million annually. So Hayward is a hard no.

His numbers in 2021-22 were lower than usual. In 49 games, Hayward averaged 15.9 points (the lowest for him in three years), 4.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He shot 45.9% from the field (the lowest for him since 2015-16) and 39.1% from the 3-point line.

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto was right when he recently said that the Knicks no longer have a need to go after Hayward.

The New York Knicks came close to being in the ballpark of that Charlotte Hornets deal when Hayward was looking for a new home, I’m told. He already committed to Charlotte at the time, and that’s why he didn’t end up going to New York. Indiana was previously interested in looking at Hayward as a trade candidate when they had Domantas Sabonis. Now, they’ve pivoted and gone in a different direction. I don’t know if you can look at him there as a fit.

It’s going to be difficult for the Hornets to execute a trade for Hayward during the offseason. The amount of money that he’s owed is far more than what he’s worth, given his injuries and output (or the lack thereof) over the past two years.

New York made a flurry of veteran signings last offseason that didn’t pan out, so that should be more of a reason to not engage with Charlotte in trade talks.

Specifically, we all know how it worked out the last time that the Knicks signed a player that most recently played with the Hornets and the Celtics. That itself should be a sign.

The Knicks aren’t desperate enough to pursue a trade for Hayward and his contract. It’s the exact opposite direction that New York should be headed in.