'Certifiably insane': Michael Jordan stuns NBA with $167m gamble

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Michael Jordan, pictured here speaking to the media after a Charlotte Hornets game.
Michael Jordan speaks to the media after a Charlotte Hornets game. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Michael Jordan has stunned the NBA world with a reported four-year, $120 million deal to bring Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets have wanted Hayward for years and on Saturday they finally landed him, according to Priority Sports, the agency that represents the veteran forward.

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A person with knowledge of the terms, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been signed, told the Associated Press that Hayward will sign a four-year contract worth $120 million (AU$167m).

ESPN first reported the agreement between Hayward and the Hornets.

Hayward turned down a $34 million option for this season with Boston, and the Celtics were in talks with other teams - including Indiana, which was believed to be a preference of Hayward’s - on potential sign-and-trade deals.

Instead, it appears the Celtics are seeing Hayward walk away as a free agent.

Hayward agreed to a four-year offer sheet worth about $63 million with the Hornets in 2014, a deal that was matched by the Utah Jazz - Hayward’s original team.

Hayward left the Jazz for Boston in 2017, saw his first season with the Celtics end on opening night of the 2017-18 season when he suffered a horrible lower leg injury, then averaged 14.0 points per game over the following two seasons.

Those stats and his injury history left many wondering why Jordan and the Hornets would splash so much cash on Hayward.

But as David Aldridge of The Athletic pointed out, Charlotte are forced to pay overs to sign free agents because they’re not one of the powerhouses of the NBA.

“People act like players and agents are lining up to come to Charlotte,” he said.

“They are not. Who, exactly, did you think the Hornets would be in on next summer, after they get out from under Batum’s and Cody Zeller’s deals?”

Sam Amick added: “Small market teams have always had to pay extra for big-time talents to come to town.”

Gordon Hayward, pictured here in action for the Boston Celtics in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Gordon Hayward in action for the Boston Celtics in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fred VanVleet bets on himself and wins

Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet has agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract to remain with the Toronto Raptors.

VanVleet, the undrafted guard from Wichita State, has played a huge role in the Raptors’ recent successes, most importantly their run to the 2019 NBA championship.

He has set career bests in scoring by wide margins in each of the last three seasons, that number rising to 17.6 points per game this past season.

Keeping VanVleet was of major importance to the Raptors, who have won at least 50 games in each of the last five seasons - by far the longest current streak in the NBA.

Milwaukee has a two-year such streak, and the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers reached the 50-win mark last season.

It also fulfilled a VanVleet prophecy: He famously went undrafted four years ago, then passed on some low-money deals that he figured wouldn’t pan into much.

“I turned those down. I bet on myself,” VanVleet told friends and family on what would have been his draft night, a festive occasion that turned disappointing when the call from the NBA never came.

On Saturday he tweeted his reaction - a retweet of himself saying “Bet on yourself" in 2016, with three moneybag emojis now attached.

The Raptors brought him in on a summer-league deal, then a minimum deal, then gave him a two-year contract for $18 million two years later - and now gave him the full reward.

with Associated Press