Rather than simply signing Hayward's reported four-year, $120-million deal into cap space, the Hornets are exploring acquiring the 30-year-old former All-Star via sign-and-trade, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
However, the deal is contingent on Charlotte making a second move: Kupchak must now find a third team willing to take on Nicolas Batum's expiring $27.1-million salary for 2020-21. Otherwise, the Hornets would need to stretch-and-waive the Frenchman, keeping him on the team's books as a $9-million cap hit for the next three seasons.
Batum's services likely won't be in high demand. The 31-year-old made just 22 appearances in 2019-20 - the fourth season of his monster five-year, $120-million deal - and averaged 3.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and three assists per game. Charlotte will undoubtedly have to attach future draft assets to incentivize a team to take on Batum's deal, regardless of whether the next team chooses to keep him, stretch his contract, or waive him outright.
The Celtics would create a substantial trade exception by moving Hayward via a sign-and-trade. General manager Danny Ainge would have increased flexibility on the market for the next calendar year, helping Boston avoid effectively losing the 2017 All-Star for nothing.