According to a recent rumor, the New York Knicks made a notable attempt to sign Gordon Hayward after he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics.
As quoted by Bleacher Report, Marc Stein of The New York Times wrote on Tuesday that the Knicks were always among Hayward’s top suitors ahead of his decision to sign with the Charlotte Hornets. He noted that new head coach Tom Thibodeau was the 30-year-old’s “lead admirer” as the team made efforts to improve their offer while also considering its options with another target — Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook.
“The Knicks eventually decided to increase their offer to four years from two to compete with sign-and-trade interest from Indiana and Charlotte, but the Hornets went to a financial level for Hayward that no rival was willing to match.”
In addition, Bleacher Report cited ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who tweeted over the weekend that Hornets owner Michael Jordan made a call to Hayward as he hoped to “close the deal.” He added that the veteran forward “obviously remembers” how the basketball legend presented him with an offer sheet in the summer of 2014 — when his rookie contract with the Utah Jazz had just expired.
As further noted, the Knicks could have benefited if they were able to acquire Hayward, who averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists and shot 50 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three-point range in 2019-20, per Basketball-Reference. However, the outlet added that his signing most likely wouldn’t have been good enough to help New York end its playoff drought.
With Hayward now partnering with guards Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, and LaMelo Ball on a rebuilding Hornets team, the Knicks will likely rely on veterans Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, and Austin Rivers and incoming third-year man Kevin Knox at the wing, according to Bleacher Report. The publication added that players such as Julius Randle and 2020 first-round pick Obi Toppin will be expected to contribute at both forward spots in the coming season.
Although the Knicks missed out on Hayward, rumors continue to swirl around the organization and its reported interest in Westbrook. On Tuesday, SportsNet New York’s Ian Begley wrote that the Knicks could potentially help Charlotte “shed any salary” so that Hayward’s signing could be completed via sign-and-trade. But even with this in mind, the club might not be as interested in the Rockets superstar as it used to be, considering the recent signings of Rivers and Elfrid Payton in free agency.