Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward


Gordon Hayward

The Denver Nuggets project to cross the NBA’s second tax apron. Because of that, they won’t have anything to offer free agent targets besides the veteran’s minimum. However, there could be veterans out there who want a ring added to their legacy, like Gordon Hayward.

Hayward, who’s coming off a four-year, $120 million contract, will be an unrestricted free agent. DNVR Sports’ Harrison Wind revealed that the Nuggets like what they see in him.

“I know there are people within the Nuggets who are fans of Hayward,” Wind wrote.

Wind also acknowledged Hayward’s issues with the Oklahoma City Thunder but added why he likes him as a target for Denver.

“He averaged 17 minutes in 26 games at the end of the regular season but then fell out of the rotation during a second-round loss to the Clippers and failed to score a single point in 46 total playoff minutes (0-3 shooting). But I think there’s still good basketball here. He posted solid numbers in Charlotte to start the year — 14.5 points per game on shooting efficiency that was in line with his career averages.”

Hayward has made plenty of money already in the NBA. At the stage of his career, settling for a lesser role on a title contender like the Nuggets might be the best avenue for him.

Gordon Hayward Returning to Thunder Seems Unlikely

During his end-of-year press conference, Thunder executive Sam Presti admitted that acquiring Hayward was a mistake.

“I missed on that,” Presti told reporters. “That’s on me. But I’m learning, I’m trying to learn this team, I’m trying to learn the pace of the team a little bit. And trying to be a great observer of the team as it’s going through its paces, knowing that it’s really going to change on its own in and of itself.”

Presti’s words would indicate that re-signing Hayward likely isn’t in the cards. If that’s not enough, Hayward’s wife, Robyn, responded to Presti’s comments. She commented on a Bleacher Report Instagram post highlighting what Presti said about Gordon.

“Why trade for someone and not play them? … missed it by not integrating him,” Robyn said with a laughing and shrug emoji.

All of this would indicate that Hayward won’t suit up for the Thunder again anytime soon. Given that his time did not work out for either party, that could mean he could be had for cheap. One of the Nuggets’ worst issues was their depth. They likely can’t offer Hayward a starting role, but they can offer a role similar to what they had Bruce Brown play when they won the title in 2023.

Kelly Olynyk Tabbed ‘Dream Trade Target’ for Nuggets

While the Nuggets are short on options, that shouldn’t stop them from exploring any avenue they can. Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz explained why the Nuggets should consider going after Olynyk.

“Bringing him in as a backup to Jokić would allow the three-time MVP to rest more after he averaged a career-high 34.6 minutes during the regular season and 40.2 during the playoffs.

“Olynyk is one of the best passing bigs in the NBA, allowing Denver to run similar actions with him on the court. The 33-year-old averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and shot 38.7 percent from three between the Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors this past season.”

If they can get below the tax apron before re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, an Olynyk trade is possible. There would be a lot of moving parts, though. Adding Olynyk and Hayward would be a dream offseason for the Nuggets.

Matt John covers the NBA for Heavy.com. A Massachusetts native, he has covered the NBA since 2018, with stops at The Sporting News, FanSided, Basketball News and Basketball Insiders. More about Matt John

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