Hornets ink Hayward to offer sheet as Wizards wait on Ariza

Hornets ink Hayward to offer sheet as Wizards wait on Ariza
July 9, 2014, 10:30 am
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While the Wizards, Trevor Ariza and most of NBA free agency remains in wait-and-see mode as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh ponder their financial and playing future, the Charlotte Hornets are making moves. Trying to, anyway.

The Hornets, who battled Washington for playoff seeding this past seeding, signed restricted free agent Gordon Hayward to a max contract late Tuesday night. The terms, 4-years, $63 million for the Utah Jazz guard and former Butler star, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The Southeast division franchise also reportedly remains in play for free agent forwards Marvin Williams and Kris Humphries, two players who could be in play for the Wizards as replacements for free agents Ariza and Trevor Booker.

One of the top young wing guards in the NBA along with Bradley Beal, Hayward averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season with Utah. The Hornets have the inside power with Al Jefferson and the penetration skills of Kemba Walker, but desperately need a perimeter threat. Adding Hayward would make them formidable threat in the currently wide-open Eastern Conference. The Hornets were swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.

However, don't count on Charlotte owner Michael Jordan bringing that trio coming together. Utah has three days to match the offer and according to Wojnarowski's reporting, the Jazz plan on keeping Hayward.

RELATED: [Reality check: Wizards contending for Kris Humphries?]

As Ariza's camp awaits for the free agent market to be set and gauge which teams might want the small forward, the Wizards, like many teams, have hit the pause button when it comes to issuing contracts. That's obviously not the case with the Hornets. Of course, unlike Washington, Charlotte has lost a key member from last season's starting lineup.

Josh McRoberts agreed to terms with the Miami Heat on Monday, leaving a hole at the power forward slot. Charlotte drafted PF Noah Vonleh, along with wing guard P.J. Hairston, in the first round of the NBA Draft last month. Vonleh, while blessed with exciting potential, is not likely to help much next season after playing just one season in college for Indiana.

The Hornets are reportedly talking contract with Williams, who could be a small forward or stretch-4 with Washington. The two divisional foes are also reportedly the leading contenders for Humphries, a rebounding and energetic force with the Boston Celtics last season.

Possibly losing out on Williams or Humphries or both would hardly count as a major blow for Washington, especially if Ariza re-signs. Charlotte might get its first choice of frontcourt help is all. The Hornets already made their choice for backcourt assistance with Hayward. They just don't get to make the final decision on where he'll play next season.