Gordon Hayward decided to leave the Boston Celtics for a richer contract offer with the Charlotte Hornets this offseason signing for $120 million over four seasons. Hayward mentioned having "no-ill will" towards the Celtics after three seasons marred by injury and uneven play.
"Tough decisions were certainly made," Hayward said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "There's no ill-will on my end from anybody within the Boston organization, the players. I had an unbelievable time in Boston and I think that it's unfortunate what happened, I obviously had a freak injury right when I got there. And there's a lot of things that were kind of out of my control of when I was in Boston. But I had a great time there and still have great relationships with the people there and some of the players there. And my teammates and coaches and my wife and I had built relationships with members of the community that we live in and to this day we talk to them ... there's no ill will on my end and I really loved my time in Boston.
"Certainly couldn't be more excited about where I'm at now. And looking forward to this next chapter."
Hayward was surprised by how quickly his departure from the Celtics and arrival with the Hornets went.
"Honestly, when you're in the bubble, I was focused on the task at hand," Hayward said. "I missed my family, my wife was about to give birth, there was actually a lot of things that were going on -- free agency wasn't even in the back of my mind at all. And then when I get hurt, I'm just trying to get myself better as fast as I can so I can try to come back and see what I can do to try to help us. So certainly wasn't thinking that this could be the last go-around at all. I think just the circumstances of the bubble and just where the NBA's at right now, and where the world's at with COVID, it was unlike any other circumstance."
Mitch Kupchak believes Hayward can become an All-Star player again.
"I still think he can make an All-Star team," Kupchak said. "He's 30 years old, and I believe it might not be a fair comparison but I think Jimmy Butler was 31 when Miami brought him on board and I think Jimmy had a pretty good year. I think the best years for an NBA player, when their mind catches up to their body is between the ages of 28 and 32. So I think he still has at least two solid, maybe three really solid years where he can play at a high level. Now, whether he makes the All-Star team or not, I don't know. Do we need him to average 25 or 27 points for this team? No, we do not need that. We need the stability in the locker room. We need what he brings to us at that position. Not only scoring but facilitating an offense. And what does that translate into? I don't know, 17 points, 19 points, 6 rebounds? I don't know. But to add a player like that to this young group we just felt that was the move in the right direction."