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Free agent Hayward headed to Charlotte Hornets in $120mn deal

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Coveted free agent Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics signed to a $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets. AFP

Free agent Hayward headed to Charlotte Hornets in $120mn deal

Coveted NBA free agent Gordon Hayward is headed to the Charlotte Hornets on a deal reported by ESPN to be worth $120 million over four years.

Hayward’s agents Priority Sports added confirmation of the move on their Twitter feed with a post saying “Congrats to @gordonhayward on agreeing to terms with @hornets!”

Hayward became a free agent Thursday when he declined a $34.2 million player option with the Boston Celtics for the upcoming season.

He had inked a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics in 2017, but his tenure in Boston was shadowed by injury, starting with a grisly foot and ankle injury suffered minutes into his regular-season debut with the club.

He missed the rest of that season, and after a spotty 2018-19 campaign he averaged 17.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 52 games of the pandemic-disrupted 2019-20 campaign.

Hayward was sidelined again in the playoffs in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, spraining his right ankle in the opening game of Boston’s first-round series against Philadelphia.

He returned during the Eastern Conference finals, in which the Celtics fell in six games to the Miami Heat.

The NBA’s free agency negotiating period began on Friday, but deals can’t be finalized until the signing period starts on Sunday.

Both the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers had been reported to be in the running to land Hayward, with the 30-year-old forward reported by some to favor a return to his native Indiana before the Hornets apparently swooped in.

Meanwhile, journeyman point guard Rajon Rondo is joining the Atlanta Hawks on a reported two-year, $15 million deal.

The 34-year-old Rondo is entering his 15th NBA season and this will be his sixth team. He spent the last two with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rondo thanked the Lakers, his teammates and the fans on Instagram earlier Saturday.

“To the fans . . . thank you for welcoming me with open arms from Day 1 and showing me love. Being apart of #LakeShow was something special and I’m proud we brought it back to you!”

Also, the Toronto Raptors are poised to sign guard Fred VanVleet to a four-year, $85 million deal, Canadian media reported.

The deal represents a huge payday for VanVleet, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

VanVleet played a crucial role in the Raptors’ run to a championship in 2019.

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